Singapore starts on-road testing for autonomous shuttles at Sentosa
As announced jointly by the Ministry of Transport (MOT), ST Engineering Land Systems, and Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC), Singapore will be launching a public trial for locally-developed on-demand autonomous shuttles at Sentosa next year.
“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. 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,” said Mr Loh Ngai Seng, Permanent Secretary for Transport and Chairman of the Committee on Autonomous Road Transport for Singapore.
Before the public trial, part of the testing of operational systems and safety protocols has commenced on 5 June along a 1km stretch of the service road at Tanjong Beach and will be progressively extended to a 2km route linking Palawan and Siloso beaches by the end of this year. The autonomous shuttles will not carry members of the public during this test phase.
In 2019, as part of a three-month public trial, visitors and staff in Sentosa will be able to hail the autonomous shuttles via their smartphones or at kiosks, along a longer 5km route. The public trial will involve two types of autonomous vehicles, namely, two units of a 22-seater mini-bus and two units of a smaller 15-seater shuttle.
To inform the public of the trials, signboards have been put up along the test routes. In addition, all autonomous shuttles will bear electronic signages to signal that they are operating autonomously, for easy recognition by road users and pedestrians.
The autonomous mobility-on-demand solution is developed by the Land Systems arm of ST Engineering, in partnership with MOT and SDC. ST Engineering has combined a variety of technologies such as radar, lidars, GPS, odometry, and computer vision, to transform a 6.8-metre electric bus into one that is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input.
“Developing our indigenous capabilities in autonomous technologies is necessary as Singapore looks to deploy and operationalise autonomous vehicles as a mode of public transportation. ST Engineering’s AV kit is platform-agnostic, and hence can be integrated onto other transportation platforms. The outcomes of the trials will provide valuable inputs and data on the performance of the vehicle under various road conditions, and allow us to fine-tune its responses to them,” said Dr Lee Shiang Long, President of ST Engineering Land Systems.
The advanced control systems interpret fused sensory information and identify appropriate navigation paths, as well as obstacles and relevant signage.
Another key feature is ST Engineering’s platform-agnostic Autonomous Vehicle Management System, which analyses passenger demand and optimises route management for such ride-sharing services.
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 facilities.
“Technology is a key enabler in our efforts to create great guest experiences, and the trial of autonomous mobility-on-demand vehicles in Sentosa is a fitting illustration of how we constantly collaborate with partners to explore solutions that make our visitors’ stay even more enjoyable. As we work towards the public trial of the vehicles, we look forward to not only strengthening connectivity across the island, but also offering our guests another unique experience, among the array of novel leisure activities in the State of Fun,” said Mr Quek Swee Kuan, Chief Executive Officer of Sentosa Development Corporation.