Written by Staff Writer
13 Oct, 2015 | 5:33 pm
Singapore formally launched the testing of driverless vehicles on public roads on Monday (October 12), pushing ahead the study of technology aimed at reducing its dependence on manpower, and joining some U.S. states and countries like Germany.
The Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) along with the National University of Singapore and the Agency for Science Technology and Research showed off their two self-driving vehicles in the one-north neighbourhood of Singapore, which is home to several research facilities and educational institutes.
As a country with a limited land and workforce, Singapore is hoping to use autonomous vehicles (AV) to encourage residents to use more public transport, and avoid further congestion on its roads.
Singapore residents, says Permanent Secretary for Transport Pang Kin Keong, prefer owning cars so as to avoid walking the first and last mile from the bus or train station to their home.
He also said driverless vehicles could help solve a potential shortage of bus drivers in future.
SMART’s driverless car, a converted Mitsubishi electric vehicle with a top speed of 30 kilometres per hour, is fitted with motors for the steering wheel, the break and the gas pedal, but the most important technology are the sensors, says Marcelo Ang, who is working on the project.
For security purposes, a person still needs to sit behind the steering wheel in case anything goes wrong.
On the same day, Singapore’s tourist destination Gardens By The Bay demonstrated their driverless vehicle, the Auto Rider, which they say is the first fully operational self-driving vehicle in Asia.
Public trials are due to start in December 2015.
The government said on Monday that it would also seek proposals to design and implement autonomous truck platooning trials, which involves one human-driven truck being followed by driverless trucks.
Autonomous vehicles could spur mass-market adoption of ride sharing, which could ultimately result in a marked reduction in owned vehicles and in the total number of cars on the road, at least within cities, according to a BCG report in April.
Google and other automotive manufacturers and suppliers have said the technology to build self-driving cars should be ready by 2020.
Separately, Singapore’s Land Transport Authority said it had received proposals from eight applicants, including Uber Technologies Inc, BMW, and Toyota Motor Corp’s general trading company Toyota Tsusho after the government in June sought for more ideas on how AV technology can be harnessed for other land transport mobility concepts.
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