China Begins Mass Production Of Driverless Buses

The Apolong is a strange vehicle. It looks more like a cable car cabin than a bus. Designed with soft lines and especially generous windows, it can accommodate 14 people sitting opposite each other. None leads. There is no steering wheel because this electric minibus moves alone. You can travel 100 kilometres with a full battery, which takes just over two hours to charge. And it has a top speed of 70 kilometres per hour that never reaches.

At the moment it moves at a speed that rarely exceeds 30 km / h, and replaces the traditional little trains and carriages destined to make less heavy walks through large areas, such as natural parks. But this is only the beginning of a path that seems long.

At the moment, although it does not require a driver, Apolong moves only along pre-established routes. In tourist parks, for example, they follow a circuit and stop at certain stops. The same happens in industrial complexes, where they connect companies or go from one pavilion to another. They can avoid obstacles and stop to prevent accidents, but never deviate from the programmed path. That is the requirement that is lacking to reach the maximum level of autonomous driving, 5.

However, Apolong demonstrates how Chinese companies are taking the lead in the implementation of new mobility models. They are no longer just prototypes that are tested in closed circuits, but vehicles that operate in real conditions.

It is an advantage that different Chinese car brands are taking advantage of. Because, if there is one thing in which those who develop technologies of the future agree, it is in which the automotive sector is going to be the one that lives a deeper transformation at the intersection of ‘big data’, artificial intelligence, and the arrival of 5G networks.

Aware of this, the Chinese government itself is promoting the development of these vehicles. For this, in addition to offering soft loans and grants, it has established different projects in leading cities, such as Shanghai, where public and private institutions can experiment with driverless cars.

The National Pilot Zone for Connected Intelligent Vehicles of the economic capital is a good example of this. In its 5 square kilometres, 15 kilometres of roads have been built that simulate different situations so that companies that develop autonomous vehicles can test them without a problem.

One of the most promising is also a bus. Although, in this case, it is a vehicle that already has about 50 passengers and, for the moment, still maintains the steering wheel. Several engineers work on the autopilot system and have already tested it at a cruising speed of 60 km / h, much faster than the Apolong. The objective is that the Shanghai area open to autonomous vehicles is gradually growing and that these buses become commonplace before the end of the decade.

The introduction of these fleets of vehicles without a driver will be gradual and not only for the transport of people but also for freight. Not surprisingly, in addition to Apolong, Chinese technology has introduced the Neolix AX1, a small logistics vehicle that is capable of carrying packages to its recipients without a human being involved.

Discover What Are The Materials For Bus Stops

Today, technological developments allow a wide range of materials to be available for bus stops, thanks to which its construction is easier. From wooden structures (widely used in rural areas) to metal alloys, the companies responsible for the design and manufacture of urban furniture have multiple resources, and we have a proposal made from recycled materials, but it is important to also know other materials both environmentally correct and traditional for bus stops. Let’s see them below.

-Recycled plastic: The resulting structure is self-locking, which allows you to install or uninstall the system in a short time. In addition, its environmental impact is lower, as is its cost. They have great resistance to the weather and high resistance to the sliding of the surface. Today, both plastic and other recycled materials are an important part of the structure of multiple intelligent bus stops around the world, confirming the need to rethink urban accessibility from a more environmentally friendly point of view.

-Bamboo: it is a very common material in China, where it is used, among other things, to assemble tubular structures that are then used in the construction industry. Bamboo canes only take five years to harvest, unlike other trees, whose growth can take up to 20 years. Once the bamboo rods are obtained, they must receive a treatment that serves to increase their resistance and then convert them into optimal material for the construction of structures, such as bus stops. In the city of Tigre, Argentina, 20 bus stops made with bamboo began to be installed in 2014. The goal is to reach 100 stops.

-Thermo-lacquered aluminum: refers to treated aluminum to be more resistant to corrosion, heat, extreme temperature changes, rain and impacts. It is a material that has several uses and is especially useful for the elaboration of street furniture, since it has a quite long lifespan and does not require maintenance. In addition, it is very resistant, so they are ideal for designing bus stops, since they are structures that by their nature are used by a large volume of people, and therefore must withstand the onslaught of time and use.

-Polycarbonate: it is a material that belongs to the group of thermoplastics, and it is very easy to mold, so since its invention in the 50s it has had multiple industrial applications, including street furniture. Its usefulness in bus stops lies in its high resistance to impact and deformation, it also protects against UV rays, has good resistance to electrical insulation and can be maintained in good condition for a long time, even against damage caused by different environmental factors. It is one of the most used bus stop materials, especially in smart stops .

-Safety glass: It is used in specific parts of the stop, such as the canopies. The most relevant thing about this material is that if it breaks or fractures, it will not cause any harm to users, since it is designed to split into non-sharp parts (tempered glass) or to remain attached to a plastic sheet (laminated glass) , avoiding damages or serious injuries. Together with polycarbonate and recycled plastic, it is one of the most used bus stop materials in smart urban furniture proposals.