Autonomous shuttles to be tested on Singapore's Sentosa island next year

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Starting in 2019, people in Sentosa—an island in Singapore—will be able to call for on-demand autonomous shuttles to transport them around the island, as part of a three-month public trial.

The vehicles will complement Sentosa’s on-island transportation network during the public trial, giving guests additional ways to access the island’s various unique leisure experiences.

“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,” explains Permanent Secretary for Transport and Chairman of the Committee on Autonomous Road Transport for Singapore Mr Loh Ngai Seng.

“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.”

In partnership with the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC), the Land Systems arm of ST Engineering is developing the autonomous mobility-on-demand technology.

ST Engineering has combined various technologies, including radar, lidars, GPS, odometry, and computer vision, to turn an electric bus into a vehicle that can sense its environment and navigate without human input. The advanced control systems interpret fused sensory information and identify appropriate navigation paths, as well as obstacles and relevant signage.

Another key feature of this project is ST Engineering’s platform-agnostic Autonomous Vehicle Management System, which analyzes passenger demand, and optimizes route management for such ride-sharing services.

“Developing our indigenous capabilities in autonomous technologies is necessary as Singapore looks to deploy and operationalize autonomous vehicles as a mode of public transportation,” says Dr Lee Shiang Long, President of ST Engineering Land Systems.

“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.” 

The public trial will include two types of autonomous vehicles: two units of a 22-seater mini-bus, as well as two units of a smaller, 15-seater shuttle. 

Visitors and staff will be able to hail the autonomous shuttles using their smartphones, or at kiosks, along a five-kilometer route.

Before the trial begins, operational systems and safety protocols are being tested, and there are plans to progressively extend the route of testing by the end of this year. Members of the public will not ride in the shuttles during this phase of testing.

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