Volvo's first driverless electric bus begins trial in Singapore

Lena Loke
Key Points
  • The 12-meter long Volvo 7900 electric bus is jointly developed by the Swedish automobile firm, together with Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU), whose researchers will oversee the artificial intelligence developments of the vehicle.
  • The zero-emissions vehicle will require 80 percent less energy than its diesel powered counterparts.
  • Other features include light detectors, 3D picture-taking and a location accuracy of up to one-centimeter using an advanced navigation system.
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Autonomous vehicles can transform public transport: Volvo Bus

Sweden's Volvo Buses began trial services for its first full-sized driverless electric bus in Singapore on Tuesday, in what its president has dubbed "the world's first."

Speaking to CNBC's "Squawk Box," Hakan Agnevall, the president of Volvo Buses, said the vehicle is the "first full-sized, autonomous electric bus in the world."

The 12-meter long Volvo 7900 electric bus is jointly developed by the Swedish automobile firm, together with Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU), whose researchers will oversee the artificial intelligence developments of the vehicle.

"We really think that autonomous (vehicles) can really transform public transport," Agnevall told CNBC on Tuesday. "It's about safety, it's about operational efficiency, and it's also about creating new opportunities for urban planning."

The zero-emissions vehicle will require 80 percent less energy than its diesel powered counterparts. Other features include light detectors, 3D picture-taking and a location accuracy of up to one-centimeter using an advanced navigation system.

A Volvo AB 7300 electric autonomous passenger bus sits at a charging station at the Centre of Excellence for Testing & Research of Autonomous Vehicles (CETRAN) of Nanyang Technology University in Singapore, on Tuesday, March 5, 2019.
Ore Huiying | Bloomberg | Getty Images

About four million people in Asia die each year due to air pollution, according to a United Nations report in October, which said that air pollution is a health risk for 4 billion people in Asia.

With air quality being a key concern amongst many world leaders, Agnevall said that the usage of electric vehicles will help address this problem.

"I would say that electric vehicles in general are environmentally friendly ... because of energy efficiency," he said. "With electric vehicles, you are addressing air quality right here, right now, in the city."

The autonomous vehicle will be tested within the campus of NTU, which is modeled after real road conditions in Singapore.

Agnevall said the timeline for rolling out the technology will be "a staggered approach and it would take some years."