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Thailand Unveils First 5G Autonomous Electric Bus Near Historic Park

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King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) has forged a groundbreaking collaboration with local telecom and autonomous vehicle companies, marking a significant milestone in Thailand’s technological landscape. The result? The unveiling of Thailand’s inaugural 5G unmanned electric bus, a cutting-edge prototype set to ply its trade near the historic Ayutthaya Historical Park in Ayutthaya province.

Initiated in 2022, the development of this autonomous electric bus is not merely a local venture; it is a testament to international cooperation. King Mongkut’s University of Technology and Turnkey Communication Service Corporation, along with contributions from various companies and supporting organizations, joined forces in this pioneering project. Macnica Cytech Co., Ltd., a Yokohama-based company, played a crucial role by providing essential software components.

The 5G unmanned electric bus boasts an operation route spanning approximately 2.8km around Ayutthaya Historical Park, featuring four designated passenger pick-up points. To ride this technological marvel, an advance reservation is a prerequisite, facilitated through the user-friendly “5G Auto Bus” app. The free operation period extends from every Friday to Tuesday until July 1st, operating between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The vehicle’s speed clocks in at approximately 30km/h, operating at an autonomous driving level 3, which means a safety driver remains on board to handle decision-making in specific situations.

Post-July, the bus will find its new home at KMUTT, ready for deployment according to the university’s needs. The autonomous electric bus, featuring 20 seats, relies on a 5G connection facilitated through the “cellular vehicle-to-everything” platform. This innovative platform enables seamless data transmission between cars and a mobile phone network, enhancing communication and coordination. Users can reserve seats in advance, track the bus’s real-time location, and estimate its arrival time.

KMUTT President Suvit Saetia highlighted the pivotal role of the automotive industry as a longstanding economic powerhouse for over five decades. He emphasized the industry’s transformative shift, focusing on connected vehicles, autonomous driving capabilities, shared mobility, and electric vehicles (EVs). The bus operates at “level 3” autonomy, signifying its ability to navigate a predetermined route independently. However, a driver remains behind the wheel for safety and decision-making in specific scenarios, elucidated Mr. Suvit.

This landmark collaboration signifies a significant stride in Thailand’s journey toward integrating and applying autonomous technology. The advent of safe and comfortable autonomous electric buses is poised to address traffic congestion, minimize environmental impact, and catalyze innovative developments in the country’s technological landscape. The 5G unmanned electric bus in Ayutthaya stands not just as a mode of transportation but as a symbol of Thailand’s commitment to embracing and advancing autonomous technologies.

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