Lonely Planet Writer

Singapore travels to the future, testing self-drive buses for the commuter rush

Singapore has jumped into the driving seat to push ahead with new technology for self-driving buses.

Busy streets in Singapore Chinatown
Busy streets in Singapore Chinatown Image by Getty Images

The world’s only island city-state signed an agreement this week to begin testing the vehicles as part of its future vision for autonomous technology usage on its roads.  With a main diamond-shaped island and 62 other islets, the city-state wants to meet the challenges posed by both labour and land limitations.

Singapore, Orchard Road
Singapore, Orchard Road Image by Getty Images

The Jakarta Times reports that the move by the Lion City comes at a time when other nations around the world are also eager to test new ways of public transport.  As a high-density area, Singapore has signed up to this testing phase with a view to getting its citizens to either, use public transport more, or share journeys in their own cars.

According to news.asiaone.com, Singapore’s transport regulator has claimed that this is a small start to a big dream. The authority has joined forces with the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to collaborate on self-drive buses. On the regulator’s Facebook post, it was revealed that trials have already started on two electric hybrid buses.

Planning is in place to outfit existing buses with a suite of intelligent sensors and develop a self-driving system
Planning is in place to outfit existing buses with a suite of intelligent sensors and develop a self-driving system Image by Land Transport Authority

It is envisaged by the Land Transport Authority that buses currently in service, will be outfitted with sensors and self-driving systems, which would be tailored to suit the city-state’s traffic flow. Climate conditions would also be considered in the introduction of the new technology toward self-drive, but the LTA hasn’t proffered a start-up date.
Singapore says it now wants to gather the data it needs from research institutes and the industry to see if it could introduce self-driving vehicles for public street cleaning and refuse collection.