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Singapore To Start Using Driverless Buses by 2022
Singapore to trial driverless buses on selected routes (CCSS Level: Grade 8, Words: 348)
Nov 26, 2017 Science & Technology
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Singapore has so far avoided the massive traffic jams that choke other Asian cities like Manila and Jakarta by imposing road tolls, spending massively on public transport and becoming one of the world's most expensive places to own a car. It now plans to embrace self-driving technology to further reduce reliance on cars and improve how people get around.

From 2022, Singapore will roll out driverless buses to three towns Residents in Punggol, Tengah and the Jurong Innovation District will be able to hop on and off autonomous buses and shuttles on quiet roads during off-peak hours, as part of plans to improve mobility in the land-scarce city-state, putting the country at the forefront of the self-driving revolution, its transport minister said last Wednesday.

While the buses will run on a schedule, the government also outlined plans for the public to hail the self-driving shuttles using their smartphones. The driverless vehicles are expected to run alongside existing human-driven bus services, rather replacing them.

The country has fully embraced autonomous vehicle (AV) technology, announcing last year its intentions to start using driverless road sweepers to clean roads and collect rubbish.

"AV technology will transform urban mobility, how we move about in the city. It is especially promising for Singapore because it can help alleviate the tight land and manpower limits that currently constrain out land transport system," Transport Minister Khaw Boon said during a launch event. "We expect that the autonomous vehicles will greatly enhance the accessibility and connectivity of our public transport system, particularly for the elderly, families with young children and the less mobile. More importantly, we can gain further insights into how we can develop new towns or refurbish existing ones for the safe mass deployment of autonomous vehicles."

US companies Google and Tesla have been leading the move towards autonomous vehicles, while Apple confirmed it was working on its own driverless systems earlier this year. Ride hailing company Uber is working towards its own fleet of driverless vehicles in partnership with Volvo, while traditional automakers Ford, BMW and Audi are working on their own.

Singapore is asking for input from industry and research institutions on what is needed to implement the project, with industry proposals to be invited after May 2018. Around 10 local and foreign companies are currently in Singapore to test their driverless vehicle technology.

Some industry players believe autonomous vehicles can ply highways and busy city streets in Singapore without any form of human intervention in 10 years's time. "Our future vehicles will be driverless, but they'll be electric first, and that's a change that needs to come as soon as possible," Khaw added.

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