Singapore’s Sentosa Island is set to have a free on-demand driverless shuttle bus from Monday, August 26.
This was announced in a joint release between the Ministry of Transport (MOT), Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) and ST Engineering on Tuesday.
Two autonomous minibuses and two small autonomous shuttle buses will be deployed at locations such as Siloso Point, Beach Station, Palawan Beach, Tanjong Beach and Sentosa Golf Club. They will cover a 5.7km route.
Visitors to Sentosa will be able to ride the bus using the “Ride Now Sentosa” mobile app. The app will require them to register on the app with their mobile number, following which they can book a bus. They can then indicate their current location to be picked up from.
Visitors can also use kiosks stationed along the route to access the service.
The service will only be available for four hours on weekdays, from 10 am to 12 pm and from 2 pm to 4 pm.
A safety driver, trained in the controls of the bus, will always be stationed in all the buses to take over the control of them if there ever be a need for it.
The shuttle buses also come with a vehicle fault system which will give real-time alerts to the safety driver of any defects and it will handover the control of the bus to him.
Electronic signages will be displayed by the autonomous vehicles to signal pedestrians and others on the road of their autonomous operation.
Technologies have been incorporated into these vehicles to allow them to sense their environment and recognise suitable navigation paths, obstacles and signages.
They will be better able to navigate through traffic in various scenarios and environments. Roundabouts are one of the features of the road which these buses can manoeuvre around.
Mr Loh Ngai Seng, permanent secretary for transport and chairman of the committee on Autonomous Road Transport for Singapore said that this technology can revolutionise Singapore’s public transport system in the future.
He said that the trial gives key information on the experience of commuters and of other road users. The aim is to boost urban mobility through the safe implementation of autonomous vehicle technology.
This trial service was launched on Tuesday after the completion of more than a year’s worth of tests conducted.
However, this is not the first autonomous vehicle to be deployed on our roads. OpenGov had reported of a similar initiative by the National University of Singapore (NUS).
The NUSmart Shuttle is an EasyMile EZ10 autonomous vehicle which is electrically powered and can transport about 12 people at a time.
It was deployed for trials last month.
The shuttle comes with a full range of sensors installed in it, giving it the ability to detect and avoid any oncoming obstacles. The shuttle employs its internal systems and hardware technologies to autonomously drive on the roads, without relying on any external infrastructure.
Singapore ranks second globally in Autonomous Vehicle Readiness report.
Singapore topped in the following criteria: policy and legislation and consumer acceptance.
On policy and legislation, it received the maximum score on regulation, with a 2017 amendment to its Road Trafﬁc Act allowing self-driving vehicles to be tested on public roads, and a single entity to coordinate AV work, the Singapore Autonomous Vehicle Initiative announced in 2014.
In the area of consumer acceptance, consumer research suggests that Singaporeans are more open to autonomous technology than many other countries.