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Volvo and NTU launch world’s first autonomous bus

Volvo and Nanyang Technological University launched an autonomous electric bus in Singapore on Tuesday.

The launch of this new autonomous vehicle is part of a programme between NTU and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and a development programme between the university and Volvo Buses.

According to a news release about the launch, the 12-meter electric bus, Volvo 7900, can fit around 80 people, has 36 seats and is a zero-emissions vehicle which requires 80% less energy than a diesel bus of the same size.

Also, the bus includes many sensors and navigation control tools that are powered by an artificial intelligence system. It is comprised of light detection sensors, stereo-vision cameras that capture 3D images as well as a global navigation satellite system with location accuracy which is said to be of up to 1cm.

These AI powered sensors and navigation controls will be developed by researchers from NTU which will enable full autonomy to the vehicle in dense traffic and tropical weather conditions. It has been said that there will be a transport operator whose role is to determine the roadworthiness of the vehicle on public roads.

The news release stated: “Ensuring maximum safety and reliability, the AI system is also protected with industry-leading cybersecurity measure to prevent cyber intrusions.”

The vehicle will soon start trial runs on the NTU campus in Singapore.

The data collected from the trials will be used to further enhance and improve the technology before they are put on public roads for testing.

“It represents a key milestone for the industry and is an important step towards our vision for a cleaner, safer and smarter city,” said Volvo Buses president Hakan Agnevall.

NTU President, Professor Subra Suresh said “This research project not only involves cutting-edge science, technology and AI, but also an excellent example of close partnership among academia, industry and Government agencies in translating basic research into products and services for the benefit of Singapore and beyond.”