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Unique demonstration of autonomous bus

The potential an autonomous bus can have in a bus depot was demonstrated on November 12 by Volvo Buses and Keolis. An electric and autonomous bus then drove itself between different stations a bus needs to visit in the depot between the shifts. The demonstration is one of the first in the world and represents an important step on the road to more autonomous vehicles as well as safer, cleaner and more efficient public transport.
The autonomous Volvo bus at the loading station at the depot.

The demonstration was held at Keoli's bus depot outside Gothenburg. During the demonstration, the fully electric 12 meter autonomous bus drove from its parking lot to a number of different stations such as washing, service and charging, before the bus parked in its parking lot – all while the bus had passengers on board.

"This marks a very important step in our autonomous journey. Autonomous buses in depots bring new benefits such as more efficient traffic flows, higher productivity, less damages and improved safety", says Håkan Agnevall, CEO of Volvo Buses.

"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 of Keolis in Sweden, who believes that it new technology will be more common in 5-10 years.

ABB, who contributed a charging station during the demonstration, also 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. 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.

The demonstration was one of the first to take place in a real bus depot – one of the areas that Volvo Buses believes has the greatest potential for autonomous solutions.

"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."

In ten years, another billion people will inhabit earth, most of them in cities. This will create even greater demands on public transport, infrastructure and urban planning, which must be handled in an even more sustainable and efficient way.

Read more at Volvo Buses