A fleet of on-demand autonomous shuttles has started operating in Singapore as part of a public trial.
Members of public visiting the island resort of Sentosa will be able to hail the shuttle via the Ride Now Sentosa mobile app or at kiosks along a 5.7km route to travel to selected destinations on the island, such as Siloso Point, Beach Station, Palawan Beach, Tanjong Beach and Sentosa Golf Club.
Developed by the Land Systems arm of ST Engineering (STE) in partnership with Singapore’s Ministry of Transport and the Sentosa Development Corporation, two minibuses and two smaller shuttles will be deployed for the trial.
The free service will run from 10am to 12 noon and from 2pm to 4pm on weekdays.
As a safety measure, a stand-by driver on every service will be able to take over immediate control of the vehicle if necessary. A vehicle fault system will alert the safety driver of any faults, and cede control of the vehicle to the driver. The vehicles will also display electronic signs to alert other road users and pedestrians that they are operating autonomously.
The trial service is supported by STE’s Autonomous Vehicle Management System, which analyses passenger demand and optimises route management for ride-sharing.
On-board technologies include radar, LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), GPS, odometry and computer vision to help the vehicles sense their environment and identify appropriate navigation paths, obstacles and signages. This enables the AVs to navigate mixed traffic environments as well as handle a range of complex environments, such as roundabouts, the Ministry of Transport said.
Before the trial, each vehicle underwent a safety assessment to demonstrate its ability to handle basic manoeuvres and stop safely upon detecting an obstacle.
“AV technology has the potential to transform our public transport system and the way we move around in the future,” said Loh Ngai Seng, Permanent Secretary for Transport and Chairman of the Committee on Autonomous Road Transport for Singapore. “This trial will provide important insights into commuter experience and the interaction of AVs with other road users, as we seek to enhance urban mobility by deploying AV technology safely in our towns.”