Volgabus intends to launch the production of driverless bus in 2017

Volgabus intends to launch the production of driverless bus in 2017

TASS – Volgabus Group will manufacture a prototype of the driverless Matryoshka bus until the end of the year, alongside a model for four to six passengers. The relevant statement has been made by the director and the owner of the company Alexei Bakulin.

“We have presented the Matryoshka for 8-12 passengers and there are projects for 4-6 and 20 passengers. We are also considering freight and public-service models” – said Bakulin, noting that the name itself was inspired by the possibility of transforming the product. The representatives of the company have specified that a prototype for the driverless bus for 20 passengers will be released by the end of the year, as written by TASS. 

“The absence of a law on the usage of driverless transport is the main problem. We hope that a law on the usage in closed areas will be legislated in 2017, so that we may start tests in various conditions in 2018, including climatic ones” – said Bakulin. According to Bakulin, in order not to lag behind the developments in the market, it’s necessary to legislate the usage of driverless vehicles in urban roads by 2019. 

The driverless Matryoshka bus, designed for eight people, is operated by a computer with self-learning software. Fully charged, the vehicle can travel for 130 km at a maximum speed of 30 km/h. As told by Bakulin, the prototype bus costs 8.5 million rubles, however, the price will drop to 3.5 million rubles, when the serial production launches. The main components of the vehicles are manufactured in Russia. The prototype driverless buses are being tested in closed territory at Skolkovo Innovation Centre. 

Alexei Bakulin has added that the company plans to enter the African and Middle Eastern markets until the end of the year. “We plan to start deliveries to Iran, Tanzania, Gambia and the UAE, with a minimum number of 100 units.” – Bakulin said, highlighting the necessity to solve the problems in the certification process. In particular, Iran is interested in buses with gas engines and Gambia in intercity buses. The work is carried out with the participation of the Russian Export Centre. Export opportunities to East European countries are also being considered. 

A total number of 500 buses have been manufactured in 2016 and the production forecast for 2017 is 750 units, according to company data. Exports are considered as an opportunity to fulfil the production capacities, taking into account the plans to expand the project at Vladimir region from 1000 to 5000 buses until 2020. 

In addition, the owner of Volgabus Group has stated that the company is interested in implementing a project to create a gas-engine fleet on the territory of the Kamanka industrial zone in St. Petersburg, which is planned to be carried out within the frame of the concession agreement by the city authorities. “We’re interested in the project, which would be beneficial for the whole country, if realised” – said Bakulin. Two main financial models are considered according to Bakulin, spread to 7 and 14 years, depending on the frequency of vehicle utilisation in the project. The company expects a final decision by the end of the year. 

Volgabus Group (previously called Bakulin Motors Group) has been operating in the market for 20 years, manufacturing buses of various sizes. The company is based in Skolkovo and has production sites in Volgograd and Vladimir regions. Volgabus has manufactured around 500 buses in 2016. The company takes part in the update programme of St. Petersburg public transport, aiming for transition to gas engine fuel.