On the frontier of electric transport, there is a possible solution with an electric bus fleet adopted in the cities of Luxembourg started in June 2017 in collaboration with Volvo. An electric bus has been introduced that is able to operate in a clean mode inside the urban city, utilizing many of the technologies that will make electric bus transportation more comfortable and appealing to riders (see Figure 1)
“Beginning of June the first commercially manufactured all-electric Volvo buses started operating in the city of Differdange in Luxembourg. The operator is Sales-Lentz, which now has 4 electric buses, 12 electric hybrids, and 30 hybrids from Volvo in its fleet. ‘The start of operations with the Volvo 7900 Electric marks yet another important step for all of us who work for a cleaner, quieter urban environment and more attractive public transport. Together with Differdange and Sales-Lentz we are in the vanguard of next-generation public transport,’ says Håkan Agnevall, President of Volvo Buses. ‘Sales-Lentz has always been an early adopter of new technologies. We understand our role as a public transport operator to trigger our suppliers, bus manufacturers, software developers, to deliver and develop technologies that meet the market needs. Being very close to public and private customers that require mobility solutions, Sales-Lentz sees itself as a development partner and entrepreneur ready to invest in sustainable mobility’, says Wolfgang Schroeder, Managing Director, Sales-Lentz.” (Source: Volvo Buses)
This solution, with a low environmental impact, reduces pollution and allows the public transport of individuals through the use of fully-electric buses whose batteries can quickly be recharged in a series of charging stations. This solution reduces the impact on the environment by avoiding the discharge of gaseous emissions while allowing sustainable mobility with a lower environmental impact. Furthermore, the electric bus solution is going to become autonomous in Singapore (see Figure 2):
“Volvo Buses and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have signed a cooperation agreement on a research and development program for autonomous electric buses. The program is part of the Land Transport Authority of Singapore’s drive to create new solutions for tomorrow’s sustainable public transport. … The basis of the program consists of two all-electric 12-metre Volvo 7900 Electric buses, of the same type that Volvo Buses already delivers today. Volvo and NTU will build the autonomous driving solution on Volvo’s platform. One of the autonomous electric buses in the program will be used on Singapore’s advanced new test facility for autonomous vehicles, CETRAN*, which was inaugurated in November 2017. Here, NTU’s researchers will in a fenced-off area be able to test new functionality and study how the bus interacts with other road-users in various conditions.
The second bus will be used for tests in the bus depot in partnership with the public transport operator SMRT. The aim is that tomorrow’s autonomous buses should be able to charge their batteries, drive through the depots to the vehicle wash and park – entirely autonomously.” (Source: Volvo Buses)
The autonomous electric bus solution to be used in Singapore by the Volvo Buses Company
Electronic technology is a fundamental element of this process. The sensors, microprocessors, and microcontrollers enable the electronics in the autonomous driving system making it totally independent of the need for a driver. The electronics architecture also allows communication between each transport unit and a central network. An interesting feature of this type of solution might be the chance to coordinate the autonomous fleet via an operating center through a 5G Wi-Fi network solution. (see Figure 3)
Since this solution is self-sustainable, it can be a perfectly suitable solution to many big cities and then possibly become the project of choice for sustainable urban transportation of smart cities all across the world.
The 5G network is a perfect solution for the smart cities communication infrastructure. (Source: SITO)
Do you think the electric bus solution is viable for cities? What do you think of the autonomous option? What are, in your opinion, the key challenges to this technology for the preservation of the urban environment of big cities all across the world?