Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) has signed an agreement with the city’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) to collaborate on trials of two fully-autonomous buses.
The research project is one of several being conducted by the LTA-NTU Transport Research Centre into innovative technologies in the transport industry.
The partnership will see NTU’s Energy Research Institute (ERI@N) test and develop its self-driving vehicle technology in two electric hybrid buses.
ERI@N plans to add a suite of intelligent sensors to existing buses to develop an autonomous system that will allow the self-driving vehicles to navigate Singapore’s roads safely and efficiently.
The university has already built up significant research capabilities into electric and autonomous vehicle technologies, and was one of the first research institutions to start trials of a self-driving electric shuttle in 2013.
The roads between NTU’s campus and the city's CleanTech Park have been earmarked as potential test routes for the self-driving bus trial, which may later be extended to ferry commuters to the city’s nearby Pioneer Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station.
To keep them powered, the self-driving buses will include charging technology that can be used when they stop at a bus stop or depot.
NTU Chief of Staff and Vice President (Research), Professor Lam Khin Yong, said: “NTU’s deep expertise in sustainability technologies, engineering and industry collaboration has contributed towards developing new solutions for public transportation, such as first-and-last-mile autonomous shuttles and buses.
“Current efforts worldwide have been focused on cars so this autonomous bus trial is the first-of-its-kind in Singapore that will aim to improve road safety, reduce vehicle congestion, alleviate pollution and address manpower challenges.”
Singapore is already exploring its vision of an autonomous future, where public transport is complemented by shared mobility-on-demand services using fleets of self-driving vehicles.
In August, the city launched trials with two manufacturers – Delphi Automotive Systems and nuTonomy – to test their shared, on-demand self-driving transportation concepts in the city’s one-north test bed.
If trials are successful, these projects will be developed into full-scale mobility solutions for towns in Singapore.
The city is particularly interested in ‘first-and-last-mile’ transport – for example, shuttling people between their homes and their local MRT station – and in intra-town travel.