Volvo demos autonomous bus in home city

Volvo is demonstrating its new autonomous electric bus in Gothenburg, Sweden, throughout the Volvo Ocean Race – the round-the-world yacht race that the company sponsors.

The prototype is based on Volvo’s 7900 Electric model of city bus, which has been modified for autonomous operation, and will be trialled in the home of Volvo – Gothenburg.

“With low noise level and emission-free operation, electric bus systems provide an excellent alternative for attractive and sustainable public transport,” says Håkan Agnevall, president of Volvo Buses.

“With various degrees of automation, we can make even further progress regarding safety, comfort and efficiency.”

The autonomous 12-metre bus is programmed to accelerate and brake gently and smoothly when starting off and stopping. At bus stops, the vehicle always halts in exactly the same position, maintaining the same gap between the bus and the platform, while ABB Op-charging technology uses roof-mounted pantographs to top up the bus’s battery between scheduled stops.

LIDAR, RADAR and camera sensors are used to navigate the vehicle, and in future, says Volvo, will prevent incidents by identifying objects approaching the bus, adjusting its speed accordingly or stopping the vehicle completely.

“The technology also permits more efficient vehicle handling when the bus is not in traffic operation,” added Agnevall. “With autonomous buses, depot staff can focus on service and maintenance instead of having to charge the batteries, drive to the bus wash and park the bus. Tomorrow’s buses will be able to do all this on their own.”

The autonomous bus will also be used for research into bus platooning.