Dresden, Germany has been testing a new bus intended to counter their increasingly-congested traffic. The Autotram Extra Grand, which was jointly designed and built by the Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems IVI in Dresden and the Technical University Dresden, is set to be the longest bus in the world, at 98 ft. (29.9m) long. It should be ready for its first passengers by October, 2012.
You may wonder how such a long vehicle (almost twice as long as many tractor-trailers) can maneuver those difficult turns in Dresden’s notoriously clogged streets. The answer to this, and the reason it was approved for commission, is that it has incorporated a new design into the bus’s steering column, their patented multiple-axis steering, which allows the rear segments of the bus after the first rib to follow in almost exactly the same tracks as the front wheels, as if it was a tram on a track. Essentially, the bus is supposed to integrate the efficiency and capacity of tram travel with the maneuverability of a bus.
Because of this special steering system in which four of the five axles are able to actively steer, the double-ribbed bus can be driven by any bus driver – no special license is needed. To add to the cool features, the Autotram has a fuel-efficient hybrid engine, integrating a combustion engine with an electric motor; It can travel 5 miles (8 km) on just battery power. The bus can seat a whopping 256 passengers, with 96 seats and standing room for up to 150 more. However, while it may become the longest bus in the world, the Autotram isn’t the highest-capacity bus; this title currently belongs to China’s Youngman JNP6250G City New Liner Series, which fits 300 seats into its relatively meager 82-foot length.
*The datasheet actually states that the bus is 30.7 meters, or 100.7 feet, in overall length.