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Autonomous buses charge up in Singapore

Nanyang Technological University is building an autonomous driving solution for the buses, which are supplied by Volvo

The project will deliver two autonomous electric buses for the start of 2019
The project will deliver two autonomous electric buses for the start of 2019

Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, and Volvo Buses have embarked on a cooperative venture to deliver two autonomous driving electric buses for the island by the beginning of 2019.


The “groundbreaking” project will be supported by Swiss power and automation group ABB which will provide its state-of-the-art heavy vehicle chargers (HVC) 300P for the vehicles.


One of the autonomous electric buses will be used at the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous Vehicles (CETRAN) – Singapore’s advanced new test facility – where researchers will test new functions and study how the bus interacts with other road-users.


The second bus will be used for tests in the bus depot, in partnership with public transport operator SMRT. The aim of the project is to enable tomorrow’s autonomous buses to charge their batteries, drive to the vehicle wash and park – entirely autonomously.


NTU estimates that electric vehicles could make up as much as 50 per cent of Singapore’s motor population by 2050.


“We are seeing fast growing interest in both autonomous and electric vehicles in cities all over the world,” said Håkan Agnevall, president of Volvo Buses.


“Together with NTU, one of the world’s leading universities of technology, ABB and SMRT – Singapore’s premier multi-modal land transport provider – we now have the possibility to test various solutions under realistic conditions in a major city that has high ambitions for its public transport.”


The HVC 300P fast charging system delivers 300 kW DC power and will recharge a battery in three- to six minutes, ABB claims. It is based on OppCharge, an open interface for DC electric bus charging, which is being used in Singapore and Asia-Pacific.


Using a pantograph mounted on the infrastructure for end-point charging, it allows buses to be charged at the end of the line, without impacting on the normal operation of the route, said ABB.


The system will charge two all-electric 12-metre Volvo 7900 Electric buses and Volvo and NTU will build the autonomous driving solution on Volvo’s platform.


“With this project we reaffirm our intent to develop the electric vehicle industry in the Asia-Pacific region,” added Tarak Mehta, president electrification products division, ABB. “[We] are paving the way for vehicles to become cleaner, more efficient and cost-effective than ever before.”


ABB is due to deliver the first of two HVC 300P fast chargers towards the end of 2018.


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