Credit by Bloomberg/File | Nanyang Technology University's Centre of Excellence for Testing & Research of Autonomous Vehicles
World's First Driverless City Gives Singapore Edge in Race to Robot Buses
URBAN LIFE Singapore

World's First Driverless City Gives Singapore Edge in Race to Robot Buses

In the race to deploy driverless public transport, Singapore has built a mini town that could vault it into pole position.

The 2-hectare complex, unveiled in November, has intersections, traffic lights, bus stops and pedestrian crossings, all built to the specifications that Singapore uses for its public roads.

There’s a mini hill to check how vehicle sensors perform when they can’t see directly ahead, mock skyscrapers to mimic the radio interference from tall buildings and a rain machine to simulate the island’s frequent tropical downpours.

The advantage for the city-state is that the test circuit, and the information provided by companies vying to put driverless buses on Singapore’s streets, is helping it build an unrivaled database of information on the challenges and solutions that would allow the government to introduce the technology safely.

Image: Energy Research Institute @NTU
Nanyang Technology University's Centre of Excellence for Testing & Research of Autonomous Vehicles (CETRAN). Image: Energy Research Institute @NTU

“We’re probably the only country that’s looking at this in such a pro-active and systematic way,” said Lee Chuan Teck, former deputy secretary at the Ministry of Transport. “What we’re looking at is actually deploying regulations.”

Lee said the data being gathered should allow the government to draft regulations for autonomous vehicles by the second half of this year. The nation’s small size, advanced road infrastructure and highly regulated traffic system make it an ideal petri dish for companies that are developing driverless systems.

A Navya SAS autonomous electric passenger bus travelling past a crosswalk at the test circuit at CETRAN in Singapore. Image: Bloomberg
A Navya SAS autonomous electric passenger bus travelling past a crosswalk at the test circuit at CETRAN in Singapore. Image: Bloomberg

There are now more than 10 companies testing vehicles at the facility at Nanyang Technological University in the west of Singapore, said Niels de Boer, program director for Future Mobility Solutions at the university. Two buses from Volvo AB will join them early next year and more are coming, he said.

“Nobody else is putting all three pieces -- the trials, the regulations, and the town planning -- together,” said Lee, who this month moved to a job at the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Source : Bloomberg | The Jakarta Post

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