The Race For Electric Autonomy Is On

Electric autonomy: the crossroads between self driving and sustainable transport

For automakers, the combination of autonomous and electric travel within a single vehicle is an obvious goal. Both autonomous vehicles (AVs) and electric vehicles (EVs) bring various benefits, including the protection of road users and the environment respectively. Merging the two seems key to unlocking the true potential of advanced mobility. However, with so many infrastructural and regulatory questions yet to be addressed, is it worth imagining a world of autonomous electric travel?

Last summer, Volvo Buses revealed its first all electric, autonomous bus, developed in partnership with the Nanyang Technology University (NTU). The latest addition to the company’s EV range is designed to provide more comfort and safety to passengers at the same time as reducing CO2 emissions. At 12 metres long, the bus uses 80 per cent less energy than a diesel model of the same size. Volvo’s bus is currently part of two government backed research projects, and is being tested at the NTU campus in Singapore.

The electric AV represents Volvo’s mission to deliver fully electric, self driving solutions, but they aren’t alone. Some competitors are very close to home: Swedish companies DB Shenker and Einride launched the first commercial installation of their electric autonomous truck last year. The truck, called T-pod, can be teleoperated and therefore has no driver’s cab, making it lighter, but with more loading capacity.

The marriage of autonomous and electric vehicles isn’t a Swedish phenomenon. Despite the uphill struggle to build the infrastructures needed for AVs and EVs, global automakers must recognise that the future of mobility will be self driven as well as sustainable.

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