Volvo has demonstrated an autonomous drive electric bus at a bus depot near Gothenburg in Sweden, which it claims is the first demo of an autonomous bus at a real depot.

The depot is operated by global transport operator Keolis,  and was chosen because it offered a fairly simple application for autonomous driving because the environment is known and predictable with repetitive traffic flows.

Volvo says that having the option of autonomous driving would allow bus operators to order buses to park, drive to the washbay or charging station without a driver.

Volvo says it expects that bus operators will be able to purchase autonomous systems like this within the next five to 10 years.

“During the demonstration, the fully-electric 12 m autonomous bus successfully drove itself between the parking bay and several workstations including cleaning, servicing and electric charging, before parking itself in the correct bay – all while carrying passengers,” said Hakan Agnevall, president of Volvo Buses.

“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 Agneval.

“Autonomous buses in depots bring new benefits such as more efficient traffic flows, higher productivity, less damage and improved safety,” he added.

“The industry-common charging interface OppCharge is ideally suited for autonomous charging, eliminating the need to connect power cables to the bus in the depot,” he said.