Singapore is undoubtedly the technology hub of Asia, and from what it seems, it is being considered as the ideal destination to launch autonomous vehicles. The latest announcement comes at the heels of nuTonomy public trials and states that commuters will soon be able to travel in self-driving buses around the city.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have signed an agreement at the opening of the Singapore International Transport Congress and Exhibition today to develop and test autonomous bus technologies. NTU is one of the first research institutions to have tested an autonomous electric shuttle within the campus and CleanTech Park since 2013.

This partnership, a collaboration of LTA and NTU’s Energy Research Institute (ERI@N) will enable buses to ply from NTU and CleanTech Park to nearby MRT station in the Jurong Innovation District.

Under the trial, the ERI@N will develop a self-driving sensor and deploy two sensor-mounted buses that will help them navigate Singapore’s local road traffic under all climate conditions. The 12m-long single-deck buses have the capacity to accommodate about 80 passengers. These buses will be electric-hybrid vehicles, comprising batteries that can be charged at a bus stop or depot.

Professor Lam Khin Yong, NTU chief of staff and Vice-President of Research, said,

Current efforts worldwide have been focused on cars, so this autonomous bus trial is the first-of-its-kind in Singapore that will aim to improve road safety, reduce vehicle congestion, alleviate pollution and address manpower challenges.

LTA also revealed that it will partner NTU on a research study to build a real-time condition monitoring system for the rail network. The prototype will detect early signs of defects in the traction power to aid preventive maintenance. Commenting on the same, LTA’s chief executive Chew Men Leong, said,

This will be done using a patented technology with fault diagnostic capability that can be used around the clock without disrupting normal train operations.

LTA also announced a collaboration with Google to digitise floor plans for five MRT stations at City Hall, Raffles Place, Orchard, Esplanade and Promenade. The floor plans will be made available on Google Maps today onwards. After reviewing the feedbacks from these stations, the initiative will be employed across the nation.

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