Soldiers often do not travel inside armoured vehicles or on lorries, but, if the mission and safety situation allow, in comfortable conditions, by bus. This passenger transport capability has been known to the armies since the First World War, and the Hungarian vehicle industry has long been able to cover this area by delivering various Ikarus buses. However, the well-known and popular Hungarian buses had been obsolete by the early 2010s, so a decision was made on the development of a new, already multi-purpose type.
In 2013, the Research and Development program of a new, multi-purpose bus, designed in accordance with the needs of the Hungarian Defence Forces, was launched, with the involvement of the Hungarian Defence Forces Logistics Centre, Research and Development, Science and Standardization Department of the Technology Directorate too. In addition to passenger transport, the requirements included a staff bus equipped with IT and communication systems, and a version suitable for simultaneous transporting 12 patients on stretchers and 8 walking wounded. At the request of the Ministry of Defence, HM Currus Zrt., in cooperation with Volvo Hungaria Kft., had made the first technological concept model of the bus with a 290-hp Volvo DH12 EURO 5-engine-mounted on the Volvo B7R chassis by 2015. Using the lessons learned, the CURRUS ARIES 01 prototype was built, now on the new B8R chassis, and equipped with the more modern, EURO 6 standard Volvo D8K engine. After further tests and trials, in the spring of 2017 the frame structure of the improved version, which had already been developed for modular tasks during the design, was presented, and in September, a copy ready for serial production was also received. In 2017, 100 ARIES buses were ordered for the Hungarian Defence Forces, so today soldiers can take modern buses at almost every military unit.
In 2021, HM Currus Zrt. converted five of the modular vehicles already in use into a mobile vaccination station in a very short time. Thanks to the special internal design suitable for medical and administrative tasks, the vaccination buses have all the capabilities, equipment, and devices used at standard vaccination points. Since the end of March 2021, the “rolling vaccination points” have been continuously visiting the hard-to-reach areas and settlements of the country, helping protect against the COVID-19 virus.
The vehicle is built on Volvo’s well-established B8R monocoque chassis, which comes pre-assembled to the Székesfehérvár plant. There, it is extended with a new centre section, and the austenitic, corrosion-resistant, truss-structured body is mounted on this extended chassis. The side panels are made of aluminium, the front wall, back wall, roof and vertical roof corners are made of fiberglass composite. On the right side of the body, there are two external, single-leaf, electro-pneumatically operated doors with edge-protection sensor.
The colour of the vehicle’s exterior paint is RAL 6003 matt green.
The passenger compartment can be heated with Yilkar air heaters, while in summer it can be cooled with Yilkar air conditioners, the nozzles of which are positioned on both sides of the ceiling and in the driver’s cabin.
Behind the “B” axle is the Volvo D8K six-cylinder, 7,698cc, EURO 6-compliant, CAN-controlled, 320-horsepower turbodiesel engine with a 12 + 4-speed Volvo I-Shift transmission connected to the rear axle.