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Autonomous driving

Driving a coach is a huge responsibility as it involves getting passengers to their destination safely and in comfort. Automated functions can significantly reduce distractions and help the driver stay alert. Even if the technology for autonomous driving is already here, there are many other aspects to consider as artificial intelligence takes over vehicle control and decision-making. When the world is ready, Volvo will be too.

Milestone technologies

Advanced driver assistance systems and, ultimately, autonomous driving require technologies of different kinds. Smart algorithms, reliable sensors, superfast data communication and fail-proof mechanical subsystems are just a few examples. Volvo continuously develops and deploys functions and features that will become part of future systems for autonomous driving.

Volvo Dynamic Steering

Volvo Dynamic Steering, VDS, is essentially an advanced form of power steering designed to improve the ease, comfort and precision of driving. But it is also an electro-mechanical component capable of steering the bus when fed with data from an autonomous driving system. VDS’s core components include an electric motor, a hydraulic steering gear, a control unit and a range of sensors.

Collision Warning with Auto Brake

Detects vehicles in front and warns the driver when there is a risk of collision. The vehicle brakes automatically if the warning is ignored. Unlike more basic systems, Volvo’s application uses radar and camera in combination.

Lane Keeping Support

Keeps track of the road’s lane markings and warns the driver when there is a risk of unintentional lane departure. The first warning level is discreet so as not to disturb the passengers, but if action is not taken a more robust alert is given.

Adaptive Cruise Control

An established technology that detects a slower vehicle in front and adjusts speed in order to maintain a safe distance. Like all other driver assistance systems this feature is a building-block of future autonomous driving.

Driver Alert System

An intelligent system that tracks your driving behaviour. An advanced algorithm identifies patterns in movements of the steering wheel. If it detects tiredness, you’re alerted via an audible signal and a message in the display.

Roadmap towards autonomous buses

Even if the technology for autonomous driving is already here, there are many other aspects to consider as artificial intelligence takes over vehicle control and decision-making. At Volvo we are at the forefront, conducting our own research and also working together with independent academies.

Automated driver support systems

Already today there are several automated functions helping the driver to drive more safely and with fewer distractions. Systems for lane keeping and collision warning are fundamental features. These systems will be further developed and become more capable but they still require interaction with, and actions by, a driver.

Autonomous in confined areas

Today’s sensor technology allows for controlled and precise driverless progress. With connected functions, driverless vehicles can also interact with each other according to pre-defined algorithms. In confined areas such as depots or charging stations all the relevant parameters are known, and the buses can move around safely without human intervention.

Autonomous in traffic

For autonomous driving, the step from confined areas to everyday city traffic is huge and getting there will require careful implementation. One likely initial application is Bus Rapid Transit, where the buses have dedicated lanes free from other road users. With fewer parameters for the automated systems to handle, BRT will be an important real-life validation arena for autonomous driving.

Automation in real life

The technology required for autonomous driving in controlled environments already exists. Through field trials and research we continuously develop and refine this type of functionality which are the cornerstones of future driverless applications. Below are two examples; a bus depot in Sweden and a campus area in Singapore.

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