Yutong goes unmanned

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World’s largest bus and coach manufacturer undertakes pioneering unmanned test drive in traffic

CHINA Zhengzhou-based Yutong has carried out what it says is the world’s first driverless bus test. The trial took place between Zhengzhou and Kaifeng, a distance of 32.6km and as well as negotiating 26 sets of traffic lights, the bus undertook automatic lane change manoeuvres and overtaking without any human assistance. Highest speed reached was 68km/h.

The trial is the culmination of three years of development work. The intelligent driving system comprises a master controller, sensing system and control system – the brain, eyes and ears of the vehicle. The sensing system incorporates laser radar and cameras on all four sides of the vehicle. The master controller tells the bus when to accelerate, decelerate and stop as it passes through traffic.

If there’s an emergency, the bus will go into what Yutong describes as ‘varied braking mode’ to avoid a collision. Laser radar detects the relative speed and distance against other moving vehicles. Then it processes the information as tells the bus to drive in the safest manner.

Yutong says that the bus has acquired the best driving skills that can be attained from the years of experience of an attentive, careful driver. That keeps the vehicle’s energy consumption to a minimum.

According to Tang Wang, Yutong Deputy General Engineer, the driverless bus will go through another three development stages, namely basic movement control, driving in average road conditions, and driving in race lanes. The commercial applications of some auxiliary driving technologies have already been realised.

Research and development of automotive driving technologies is jointly conducted by vehicle producers, universities and related research institutes at home and abroad, says Yutong, but it believes that it’s China’s pioneer when it comes to developing driverless bus technologies.