Mass transit sometimes can’t meet demand in dense urban environments, nor is it always the most environmentally friendly option in terms of emissions compared to hybrid and electric vehicles. A recent unveiling of what’s dubbed the world’s longest bus in Dresden, Germany aims to address both of these matters.
The new AutoTram Extra Grand, shown off by officials from Fraunhofer IVI [PDF], is said to combine the advantages of rail and road-bound transport systems. It is more than 98 feet long, consists of three cabins connected by flexible walling similar to that found on buses or light rail currently in service and has the capacity to hold up to 256 passengers (96 of which are actually seated).
The AutoTram technology is a hybrid-electric design, making use of diesel generators and lithium-ion batteries. It has an all electric operation range of around five miles. It also has an on-board compact range extender, according to officials, thus allowing the batteries to be recharged en route.
As part of its design, the bus makes use of predictive energy management, allowing for more energy efficient operation. The AutoTram also has four guided axles, three of which are controlled by an electrohydraulic actuator system. This multi-axle steering system allows the extra large bus to reportedly be maneuvered like a much smaller bus both forward and reserve.
The bus was developed in joint research with a number of other partners that helped out in such areas as the drive engines; motion, control and power electronics and vehicle computer and supercapacitors. Researchers have envisioned the AutoTram Extra Grand as being suitable for use in “Bus Rapid Transit” systems, typically found in many cities in Asia and South America where rail solutions can not be made use of for a variety of reasons.