Gov’t of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University Join Forces to Test Self-Driving Buses

The Government of Singapore, through the Land Transport Authority (LTA), and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have joined forces to conduct trials for fully-autonomous 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,” Professor Lam Khin Yong, Chief of Staff and Vice President for Research of NTU, said in a statement.

The roads between CleanTech Park – Singapore’s first eco-business park – and NTU are the potential routes for the self-driving bus trials. LTA and NTU also target the roads between CleanTech Park and Pioneer Metro Rail Transit Station as another test route.

Prior to the LTA-NTU collaboration, NTU’s Energy Research Institute has already developed its very own self-driving vehicle technology with two electric hybrid buses, measuring 12 meters each. Since 2013, the institute has tested its self-driving electric buses within its campus and within CleanTech Park.

In a joint statement, LTA and NTU said, “This research collaboration aims to outfit existing buses with a suite of intelligent sensors and develop a self-driving system that can effectively navigate Singapore’s local road traffic and climate conditions, enabling the self-driving buses to operate safely and efficiently.” In the paper entitled  “Autonomous Vehicles, Next Stop: Singapore” published by LTA, Tan Cheon Kheong and Tham Kwang Sheun wrote that autonomous vehicles will benefit a land-scarce city like Singapore.

Kheong and Sheun said that autonomous vehicles will benefit Singapore in the following ways:

  1. Improve road safety
  2. Improve fuel efficiency, lower transport costs and time savings
  3. Optimize land needed for transport
  4. Mitigate manpower constraint for bus services
  5. Enhance mobility for elderly and disabled

“The autonomous mobility solution could bring our City to another level of excitement and liveability. When integrated with mass public transport, it would make commuting no more a hassle and driving no longer necessary,” Kheong and Sheun added.

In July this year, Mercedes-Benz announced that its semi-automated bus successfully navigated the 20-kilometer route from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport to the town of Haarlem. According to Mercedes-Benz, this semi-automated bus – which measures 12 meters – passed through a number of tunnels, tight bends, bus stops and involving high speeds for a city bus.