Singapore is leading the way when it comes to the adoption of self-driving vehicles. The country was the first in the world to use autonomous taxi cabs, and its driverless public transit pods are due to hit the roads later this year. Now, the island city-state is to start testing self-driving buses.
The country's Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) signed an agreement to develop and trial the technology, which Singapore hopes will ultimately see residents use more shared vehicles and public transport, thereby reducing congestion, addressing workforce challenges, and easing pollution on its busy roads.
"They say big dreams start small, so we are collaborating with NTU (Nanyang Technological University) on an autonomous bus trial, starting with two electric hybrid buses," said Singapore's transport regulator in a Facebook post.
The two 12-meter electric hybrid buses, which can accommodate 80 passengers, are being fitted with an array of self-driving sensors that enable them to navigate Singapore's roads without the need for a driver. They include charging technology that allows the vehicles to recharge at bus stops and depots.
The test routes will include roads between NTU and CleanTech Park in Jurong. These may extend to include Pioneer MRT station at some point in the future. It's not known when the test phase will begin, but it's likely to be sooner rather than later. It will, however, be some time before residents are able to use the buses.
Singapore's NuTonomy self-driving taxi service launched in August, beating Uber in the race to get the cabs operational. It's been reported that one of the vehicles was involved in an accident today - it collided with a truck "at low speed" when changing lanes. Thankfully, there were no injuries. The company confirmed there were two engineers in the car at the time, but no passengers.