Gladys, the Trams Were Lovely, But What If…?

Filed under On the Town ~ by Throsby on  5 Mar 2019

Tram Trains

What if light rail cars had used the existing but opened and beautified heavy rail to Newcastle Station – much like the Hunter Street tramway – and the heavy trains stopped at, say, Hamilton (Interchange!)?

And the light cars served commuters from the Lake and Valley to Newcastle CBD – with additional spurs, such as to the University’s Shortland campus?

And electric buses plied Hunter Street, inner suburbs, perhaps beyond as their range increased.

Throsby just wonders, that’s all.

A $650 million pondering.

There was, after all, a carefully-researched alternative. Or even a quite low-cost status quo.

Singapore gets world’s first autonomous electric buses

Meanwhile, Volvo Buses and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore are trialling the 12-metre autonomous electric bus on the NTU campus.

The 85 passenger bus has sensors and navigation controls managed by a comprehensive artificial intelligence (AI) system.  .

The Volvo bus has undergone preliminary rounds of rigorous testing at the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous vehicles (CETRAN).

After tests on NTU campus the bus route will extend beyond the university.

The fully autonomous electric bus provides a quiet zero emission operation and uses 80 per cent less energy than an equivalent size diesel bus.

Our electric bus featuring autonomous technology represents an important step towards our vision for a cleaner, safer and smarter city,” said Hakan Agnevall, President Volvo Buses.

The journey towards full autonomy is undoubtedly complex, and our partnership with the NTU and LTA is critical in realizing this vision, as is our commitment to applying a safety first approach."

Although the bus comes with a Volvo autonomous research software with key controls and sensors, NTU researchers have enhanced it with an AI system that communicates with sensors to enable the bus’s autonomous operation.

This includes light detection and ranging sensors (LIDARS), 360-degree cameras and an advanced global navigation satellite system that uses real-time kinematics. This is like any global positioning system (GPS), but uses multiple data sources to give pin-point location accuracy up to one centimetre.

The system is hooked-up to an "inertial management unit", measuring the bus’s lateral and angular rate. This will improve the bus’s navigation when going over uneven terrain, ensuring a smooth ride.

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