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Credit: Nanyang Technological University

Credit: Nanyang Technological University

NTU to test Group Rapid Transit autonomous vehicles on Smart Campus by 2019

In Singapore, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) announced that it has joined forces with SMRT Services and 2getthere to deploy fully automated Group Rapid Transit (GRT) autonomous vehicles (AV) on the NTU Smart Campus by 2019.

The three parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at a ceremony yesterday, which paves the way for the GRT to be integrated into NTU’s transport network. The parties are also exploring the possibility of extending this to JTC’s CleanTech Park.

This new collaboration with SMRT and 2getthere highlights NTU’s goal of developing cutting-edge transport solutions that will benefit Singapore and beyond.

“NTU’s campus is not only a living testbed for innovative technologies, but also the first to test driverless vehicles in Singapore. Autonomous vehicles are an integral part of the NTU Smart Campus vision, which leverages tech-enabled solutions to create better living and learning experiences,” said NTU President Professor Subra Suresh.

The collaboration will also involve conducting research to improve autonomous vehicle technologies such as increasing the use of artificial intelligence, developing advanced sensors and sensor fusion algorithms, and improving fleet management technologies.

The silent roadster uses magnetic pellets on the road for autonomous navigation and can travel in both directions. It has a top speed of 40 kilometres per hour and can ferry 24 passengers with seating space for 8. 

The new GRTs will be tested on NTU’s campus in a few phases, which will start around the last quarter this year. The vehicles are expected to operate a service route that connects NTU’s halls of residences with the main academic areas, serving 200 to 300 passengers daily.

The trial would be gradually expanded campus-wide, running alongside other AVs that have already been undergoing tests since 2012. This latest test bedding of AVs is part of the university’s Smart Campus initiative to develop rapidly advancing transport technologies to benefit the NTU community and society.

The GRT had undergone preliminary tests along a 350-metre route between two NTU halls of residences since November last year. During the trials, close to 4,000 passengers were ferried between the two stops.

The GRT is part of the Mobility-as-a Service testbed, a collaboration between NTU, JTC and SMRT last September. The testbed seeks to integrate multiple modes of transport, including shuttle buses, bike sharing systems, e-scooters and e-bikes, and the autonomous GRT into a single mobility platform called jalan-jalan, developed by mobilityX to improve connectivity and travel within NTU’s campus and JTC’s CleanTech Park in Jurong Innovation District, which will be the largest living lab in Singapore.

The smartphone application jalan-jalan received strong support during its pilot run between NTU’s campus and JTC’s CleanTech Park from last August. The app was used to book over 67,000 trips for e-scooters, clocking a total mileage of over 80,000 kilometres.

“We are delighted by the positive response from the CleanTech Park community on the trial. Urban solutions, such as Mobility-as-a-Service, help us improve the travel experience of the communities in JTC’s estates and lay the foundation for next-generation connectivity and mobility infrastructure in our new estates,” said Glory Wee, Director, Aerospace, Marine and Urban Solutions, JTC.

Currently serving 16 stops on NTU’s campus and the CleanTech Park area, the app will gradually include more stops and manage more mobility options based on users’ feedback and test results.

As reported earlier, NTU is rolling out Smart Campus initiatives, such as Smart Pass, to harness the power of digital technology and tech-enabled solutions to support better learning and living experiences, the discovery of new knowledge, and the sustainability of resources. For AV testing, NTU has jointly developed Singapore’s first AV test centre at the Jurong Innovation District with the Land Transport Authority and JTC Corporation.

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