Alliance preps trial of autonomous bus

Alliance preps trial of autonomous bus

King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) and four local companies in the telecom and autonomous vehicle sectors initiated the development of the country's first unmanned electric bus to cash in on the trend.

The pilot project aims to run a trial of an unmanned electric bus in Ayutthaya Historical Park by year-end.

According to KMUTT president Suvit Saetia, the project is in preparation for commercial unmanned electric vehicle (EV) service by the private sector, while also complementing the EV value chain.

Mr Suvit said the auto industry has been a core engine for the Thai economy for more than 50 years. The new industry paradigm focuses on development via four criteria known as "CASE", which stands for connected vehicles, autonomous vehicles, shared mobility and EVs.

The EV bus project with a 5G platform has a budget of 27 million baht from a National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission fund.

The four local partners are SET-listed digital solutions provider Turnkey Communication Services (TKC), autonomous vehicle platform and robotics provider Gen Serv Co, transport service Panus Assembly and EV business Nex Point.

Yossapong Laoonual, head of KMUTT's Mobility & Vehicle Tech Research Centre, said the project aims to develop a prototype of an unmanned EV bus with a capacity of up to 20 seats. Trial service is on roads at Ayutthaya Historical Park.

The unmanned bus operates via 5G connection on the cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) platform.

Piya Jirapapongsa, deputy managing director of TKC, said the project gathers expertise from the fields of telecom and digital solutions, robotics and autonomous vehicles, transport and EVs.

The 5G connection is the core communication for the C-V2X to interface with all environments while on the road, including pedestrians, infrastructure, traffic lights and the cloud network.

Mr Piya said the project is meant to pave the way for development of the commercial market, while also encouraging students and researchers to participate, extending the learning curve of the autonomous vehicle industry over the long term.

Wareemon Purapati, chief executive of Gen Serv, said the collaboration should strengthen the capabilities of all parties, building public confidence in the autonomous vehicle industry.

The industry value chain includes vehicle manufacturers, computing platforms, system integration, simulation, high-definition maps, sensors, fleet management, and drive-by wireless systems.

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