Driverless buses, platoons of trucks to shape Singapore's transport future

Tue Oct 13, 2015 4:15am EDT
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By Aradhana Aravindan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore unveiled its public transport future on Monday, and it was a vision of passengers commuting in driverless buses along roads and freeways populated by platoons of autonomous trucks following a single driver.

The city state's plans to streamline its transport future have begun with two self-driving vehicles going through their paces in a Singapore estate that is home to research facilities and educational institutes.

The vehicles are the vanguard of two projects - one run by the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) with the National University of Singapore and one by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

Some U.S. states and countries including Germany also allow testing of driverless vehicles on public roads.

Singapore, with its limited land and workforce, is hoping that autonomous vehicles will encourage its residents to use more shared vehicles and public transport, and avoid further congestion on its roads.

"Trying to look for bus drivers, truck drivers - big challenge for us," said Pang Kin Keong, permanent secretary in the ministry of transport.

"We don't have a huge population and these are not some of the professions which Singaporeans aspire to," Pang said after taking a ride in SMART-NUS's driverless car - a modified Mitsubishi Motors Corp electric vehicle with a top speed of 30 km per hour (20 mph).

The government and port operator PSA Corp also said on Monday that they would seek proposals to design and implement autonomous truck platooning trials, in which a human-driven truck is followed by other driverless trucks.   Continued...

Members of the media watch as an autonomous self-driving vehicle goes onto the road during a demonstration at one-north business park in Singapore October 12, 2015.    REUTERS/Edgar Su