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Singapore to deploy autonomous electric buses in 2019

Singapore is set to embark on what it describes as a 'groundbreaking project' following the announcement that it will introduce two autonomous electric buses to the transportation fleet on the island by 2019.

Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore and Volvo Buses have formally announced that they will cooperate on the ambitious venture which is being supported by Swiss power and automation group ABB. The Swiss firm will provide its state-of-the-art heavy vehicle chargers (HVC) 300P for the vehicles.

It has also been disclosed that one of the autonomous electric buses will be stationed at the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous Vehicles (CETRAN) which is Singapore's advanced new testing facility. Researchers will test new functions and study how the bus interacts with other road-users.

In addition to this, it has been disclosed that the second vehicle will be utilized for tests in the bus depot, in partnership with public transport operator SMRT. The primary objective of the project is to enable tomorrow's autonomous buses to charge their batteries, drive to the vehicle wash and park entirely autonomously. The NTU has projected that electric vehicles could make up as much as 50% of Singapore's motor population by 2050.

President of Volvo Buses, Hakan Agnevall, says the innovative project is reflective of the market as the demand for both electric and autonomous vehicles all over the world continues to increase.

He said, "We are seeing fast growing interest in both autonomous and electric vehicles in cities all over the world. 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."

ABB has claimed that its HVC 300P fast-charging system delivers 300 kW DC power and recharges batteries in three to six minutes. It is based on OppCharge, which is an open interface for DC electric bus charging currently in operation in Singapore and Asia-Pacific.

"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're 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.