AEB_30 is a concept of an autonomous bus designated for the thirties of the 21st century. It completes the future transportation network between the high-speed railways or eventually hyperloops on the one hand and the city fleets of autonomous cabs on the other. The buses can use current dense road networks which makes them ideal means of transport for a flexible serving of wider areas around the terminals of high-speed transportation networks. The thesis is based on practical requirements but focuses on the use of modern technologies to improve travel comfort. It seeks convenient forms for the product of its size.
The morphology of the main exterior shape follows the need to maximize the inner space for passengers within the legal limits for vehicles. The expression is formed mainly by the front face, in the area around the backlights, and by the edge line of windows on the sides of the vehicle.
The big windscreen is framed by conspicuous A-pillars which seamlessly transits into the front bumper. This line is framing the whole windscreen and continues on the edge of the rooftop, which unifies the whole design of the vehicle and eases the perception of the cubic mass of the bus.
The massive bumper area serves as a counterweight to the big glass surface and approaches the human scale. It optically lowers the centre of gravity and widens the base of the vehicle which gives a safe and stable feel to the vertical mass. Also, the huge A-pillars raises a feeling of safety as it makes a barrier in case of a potential collision.
The headlights expression extends the main continuous line and it represents assuredness, safety, and speed of the autonomous transport, which the bus provides. Also, it represents the advanced technologies onboard. The line which connects the lights together is just slightly indicated by the subtle air intake which intensifies the expressions and widens the base of the vehicle again. The black matte chassis cover raises a bit into the mass of the bumper and hides the air intake of battery cooling. It also makes the vehicle optically stick to the ground.
The plastic cover of access to the electromotor and other appliances continues down under the vehicle, which imaginary connects with the cover on the front bumper. This and the light expression reflect the way the windscreen is formed.
The windows of the bus are equipped with built-in transparent LCD displays so it can be used to display the information of the bus route while waiting at the terminal. This solution significantly eases the orientation of passengers at often busy and chaotic terminals. The glass surfaces are ideal for this purpose because it takes a big amount of the outer surface of the bus in its whole height. Once the bus leaves the terminal, the displays can be turned off so passengers can see clearly through the windows. Only the narrow strip between the windows of the first and second floor can display standard basic information about the line or its operator.
The inner space conceptions are based on the verified principles of conventional coach transport, which are set by technical and legal requirements, but it makes use of differences caused by the new technologies onboard.
Seats on the first floor uses the safest section of the bus while offering two family spots with four seats and a big table. This section is divided by a frosted glass door from the busy entrance area located near the second axle. In this area, there is a staircase to the second floor, toilet, and entrance to the stuff area located above the wheels of the second and third axle. The facilities of the staff area include a small kitchen unit with basic equipment, storage spaces, and a folding chair.
The second floor offers a main seating capacity divided into two separate sections. The main open section is located in the front of the bus and behind the second staircase, there is a smaller silent section, which uses the benefit of the non-walkthrough part of the bus. Across the aisle from the staircase is the luggage rack for mid-sized onboard luggage.
The area in the front of the first floor serves as an open lobby space, where people can meet, hang out and enjoy the driver’s view. To support this use case there is a bottle refill machine placed above the front right wheel, which naturally draws passengers in. Also, it reduces the use of plastic bottles and eases the work of steward. Alternatively, this machine can be replaced with a coffeemaker depending on the particular vehicle configuration.
The vehicle is ready for SEA level 4 of automatization so it includes the concept of folding drivers chair and cockpit so the bus can be human-driven in case of bad conditions. The wide A-pillars are equipped with displays that widen the driver’s field of view, during an autonomous ride they display information about the ride for the passengers hanging out.
There are two tables at each seat – one main big and a top smaller storage one. The smaller one is made to be used for drinks and small accessories and it does not limit the comfort of the passenger when it is folded out. Also, it is equipped with a magnetic wireless smartphone wireless charger. The bigger table is sliding so it can be pulled toward the passenger for higher comfort of use.
Each of the places is equipped also with a small infotainment display. This can be linked directly with the user profile so it displays personalized information about the passenger’s route section, or it can be linked to third-party apps, such as Uber for ordering pick up automatically at the time of arrival.