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More than a decade before driverless buses take over, says Volvo
[SINGAPORE] Bus drivers will be needed for at least another 10 to 15 years before autonomous vehicles take over, a Volvo executive predicted, tampering expectations for how soon driverless technology will transform public transportation.
Already before the transition happens, transport companies can boost efficiency with autonomous technologies that make it easier to, for example, operate buses at depot areas, Akash Passey, a senior vice-president at the Swedish maker of buses and trucks, said at Bloomberg's Sooner Than You Think technology conference in Singapore on Thursday. The technology can also be used to improve safety, he said.
"Fatigue levels for drivers will improve with more autonomous applications added on to buses," Mr Passey said. "Drivers will have less to do, which will mean they will be more focused on the road."
Volvo said in March its full-sized driverless buses, with a capacity close to 80 passengers, would soon begin driving at the campus of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, before trials are extended to public roads.
Singapore has said it aims to operate scheduled services using autonomous buses during the off-peak periods in three residential areas away from the city center by 2022. The country has built a mini town for the testing of driverless vehicles, complete with intersections, traffic lights, bus stops and pedestrian crossings.