In a demonstration at a Keolis’ depot outside of Gothenburg, Sweden, the bus was shown traveling between parking bays and work stations so that it can be cleaned, serviced and charged before returning to its bay.
“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,” said Volvo Buses President Håkan Agnevall. “Autonomous buses in depots bring new benefits, such as more efficient traffic flows, higher productivity, [fewer] damages and improved safety.”
The experience, however, does include a human that must tell the bus what to do. And there is no indication of when the bus would actually be rolled out to working depots.
“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,” Agnevall said, according to VentureBeat. “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.”
This is the latest autonomous development for Volvo. The company recently partnered with NVIDIA to create artificial intelligence (AI) for autonomous trucks, and also unveiled a new autonomous electric truck that may help with a shortage of freight drivers. The truck was still being developed, but the automaker noted at the time that the vehicle should be initially deployed in ports and large logistics centers.
Volvo Chief Technology Officer Lars Stenqvist said at the time, “We believe there will be a driver behind the steering wheel for the foreseeable future, but we will pretty soon see self-driven commercial vehicles in confined areas.”