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Singapore is quickly becoming the driverless vehicle test bed capital of the world
Hot on the heels of their recent announcement to become the first country in the world to authorise the use of self-driving taxis on their streets Singapore has announced that it will begin trials of two self-driving buses in its public fleet in 2018. The vehicles will be operating near the university which helped to bring them to life, Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
It’s notable that the buses are just that – fully fledged buses without compromise and they’ll be able to carry 80 people each, with a planned route between NTU and CleanTech Park in the Jurong Innovation District. Launching the buses could significantly improve traffic congestion during peak hours in the area and, as electric hybrids, the buses will charge for 30 seconds at every stop they make.
The route the buses will take near NTU
“Current efforts worldwide have been focused on cars,” said Professor Lam Khin Yong, NTU Chief of Staff and Vice-President of Research, “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.”
The buses will be managed by both NTU and the Land Transit Authority (LTA), the public transit regulatory commission for the world’s only island city-state and during peak hours, the buses will be deployed in various locations around the city.
“During off-peak hours the buses will be deployed dynamically based on commuter demand and the fastest possible route, thereby reducing the number of vehicles needed to ply the town and maximizing the number of commuters on board each vehicle,” said Khin Yong.
While they’re unsure just what buses will be used for the test the team want to keep the buses as close to the current fleet as possible so, according to Professor Subodh Mhaisalkar, an exexcutive director at NTU, if the test proves that the busses are viable then the fleet can be scaled up quickly, and with minimal effort or cost.