A bus that can move electrically and independently, without driver on board, within the depot? It’s already here. Volvo Buses has recently held a live demonstration of a 7900 Electric city bus equipped for autonomous driving.
The demonstration took place in cooperation with Keolis in a depot just outside Gothenburg, in Sweden: the vehicle successfully moved between the parking lot and several workstations, including washing, maintenance and electric charging, before parking in the correct location, all with passengers on board.
Volvo Buses, focus on autonomous driving
The event was just the latest in a series of successful demonstrations of autonomous buses carried out by Volvo Buses in recent years. Previously, earlier this year, Volvo Buses displayed an autonomous bus concept in Singapore.
This demonstration was one of the first to take place in a real bus depot – one of the areas that Volvo Buses believes offers the greatest potential for automation. A similar test was carried out in 2018 by Iveco Bus in cooperation with RATP and thanks to Easymile technology.
Autonomous bus in the depot, commercial benefits
“This marks a very important step in our autonomous journey as we now have successfully shown the commercial benefits an autonomous solution can deliver in a bus depot,” says Håkan Agnevall, President of Volvo Buses. “Autonomous buses in depots bring new benefits such as more efficient traffic flows, higher productivity, less damages and improved safety. The industry-common charging interface OppChargeTM is ideally suited for autonomous charging, eliminating the need to connect power cables to the bus in the depot.
“We are still many years away from seeing fully-autonomous buses on public roads, but since bus depots are confined areas with predictable and repetitive traffic flows, we see autonomous buses being used there much sooner,” says Håkan Agnevall. “Working together with Keolis has given us this unique opportunity to test an autonomous bus in real conditions and will help us drive the development of autonomous solutions forward.”
Keolis and autonomous driving
“The new mobility technology will be more common in 5-10 years. Bringing the new technology into today’s depot business and developing it will not only speed up development, it will improve our performance, ensuring that our passengers benefit over the coming years,” says Jan Kilström, CEO at Keolis in Sweden.
ABB, who also participated in the demonstration, sees opportunities for the future. “ABB is fully committed to building a zero emission future and sustainable public transportation is a vital part of this. We have the products and the solutions to deliver electricity from generation to the point of consumption in a safe, smart and sustainable way. ABB’s high-power electric bus chargers with automated rooftop connection enable the efficient charging of autonomous buses, and we look forward to the future of this transport innovation together with Volvo Buses”, says Mats Peterson, Local Business Manager for ABB Electrification in Sweden.