February 22, 2018, 10:46 am
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New fuel cell bus for 2020 Olympics unveiled

SERVING the transportation needs of the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be a great opportunity to showcase technology and new transportation ideas.

Toyota Motor Corporation will take up the challenge as it launched of the “Sora,” a fuel cell bus (FC bus) concept which was exhibited at the recent Tokyo Motor Show.The company plans to launch sales of a commercial model based on the concept vehicle in 2018 and expects to introduce over 100 Sora, mainly within the Tokyo metropolitan area, in preparation of the worldwide games.

Toyota developed the concept model of the Sora based on the vision of an “enduring town icon” guided by two ideas: to make best use of the characteristics of the fuel cell power plant and to enhance the comfort of passengers traveling on bus routes.

 In the first idea Toyota aims to create a bus that works for the world and for people, is environmentally friendly, and can contribute to communities beyond its role as a mobility service.To do this the Toyota Fuel Cell System (TFCS), which was developed initially for the Mirai fuel cell vehicle (FCV), has been adopted to deliver superior environmental performance with no CO2 emissions or Substances of Concern (SoC) emitted when in operation.

Also the Sora is equipped with a high-capacity external power supply system, providing high output and a large capacity of electricity supply (9 kW maximum output, and electricity supply of 235 kWh2) and can be used as an emergency power source following disasters.

 The second idea focuses on a universal design and function that is people-centered thus the bus is envisioned to be used by large and varying numbers of passengers at any given time, Toyota paid close attention to convenience, safety, and peace of mind with the aim to give all passengers a pleasant riding experience, so that they would want to ride the buses regularly.

To enable these two ideas to work in a mass transporter, the bus is equipped with horizontal seats with an automatic storage mechanism to provide space for strollers or wheelchairs. This provides extra seating for regular passengers when the space is not needed the wheeled devices.

Several firsts in safety systems introduced in Japan fill the Sora.Improved safety from bus peripheral monitoring function using eight high-definition cameras fitted inside and outside the vehicle detect pedestrians and bicycles around the bus, providing a peripheral monitoring function that warns the driver with sound and images to improve safety.

Another innovation is the improved safety from acceleration control function that suppresses sudden acceleration and enables gentle acceleration from stops, in consideration of the safety of standing passengers. Also, there is no lurching due to the lack of a need for gear shifting.

A final first in a mass transporter is the adoption of automatic arrival control detects the guidance line on the road surface and uses automatic steering and deceleration to stop the bus with approximately 3 to 6 cm of clearance from the bus stop, and within a range of 10 cm. ahead of or behind the bus stop position. This improves boarding and exiting for passengers using strollers or wheelchairs.

Bus transportation capability, speed, punctuality, and convenience is boosted by ITS Connect—a multisurface safety enhancement technology which utilizes vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications to support safe driving, together with systems that support bus convoys and that provide priority at traffic signals (PTPS).

The design of the Sora pursues stereoscopic shaping that significantly differs from the hexahedron (box shape) of conventional buses. It also uses LED for the front and rear lights. Such design features make the FC bus instantly recognizable.(DESMOND E. TRIBDINO)
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