Singapore testing self-driving electric buses

The city-state has built a mini-town in Sentosa dedicated to a public trial for autonomous shuttles

The South East Asian state of Singapore has taken the lead in public transport development and has now made the first steps to implement autonomous buses into everyday life.

In November last year, the city-state created a 2-hectare mini-town near Sentosa containing intersections, bus stops, traffic lights and crossings to simulate a city life for autonomous buses testing. Now, the state’s Ministry of Transport in cooperation with ST Engineering Land Systems and Sentosa Development Corporation is planning to launch a public trial over three months next year.

Singapore is launching a public trial of self-driving electric buses in Sentosa — Ministry of Transport, ST Engineering Land Systems, and Sentosa Development Corporation Singapore testing self-driving electric buses
Singapore is launching a public trial of self-driving electric buses in Sentosa — Ministry of Transport, ST Engineering Land Systems, and Sentosa Development Corporation

“The autonomous mobility-on-demand trial in Sentosa marks a key milestone in our vision to leverage autonomous technology to improve the public transport system in the longer term,” said Loh Ngai Seng, permanent secretary for transport and chairman of the Committee on Autonomous Road Transport for Singapore.

“The insights gained from this trial will allow us to better understand how the technology can be deployed to strengthen intra-town connectivity and enhance mobility for commuters, particularly the elderly and persons with disabilities.”

In the test town, the creators tried to simulate situations that can occur during real operations. It features a small hill to detect whether the vehicle sensors perform adequately when obscured and mini-skyscrapers to test possible radio interference.

According to Lee Chuan Teck, former deputy secretary at the Ministry of Transport, the data gathered from the research will be used to draft government regulations for self-driving vehicles by the second half of 2018.

Visitors and staff in Sentosa will be able to experience the autonomous commute on a 5 km route — Ministry of Transport, ST Engineering Land Systems, and Sentosa Development Corporation Singapore testing self-driving electric buses
Visitors and staff in Sentosa will be able to experience the autonomous commute on a 5 kilometre route — Ministry of Transport, ST Engineering Land Systems, and Sentosa Development Corporation

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

During the three month trial in 2019, the visitors and staff in Sentosa will be able to experience the autonomous commute on a 5 kilometre route with access through their smartphones or at kiosks.

“Fully enclosed and air-conditioned, the autonomous shuttles will complement Sentosa’s on-island transportation network during the public trial, providing guests with even more ways to access the island’s various unique leisure experiences,” the ministry said in a joined statement.