SINGAPORE: A self-driving shuttle bus service will be on trial at the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Kent Ridge campus from March 2019, said transport company ComfortDelGro, which will be operating the service.
This will be the first time a transport operator is trialling an autonomous shuttle bus service, ComfortDelGro said in a news release on Monday (Nov 12).
During the year-long trial, ComfortDelGro’s wholly-owned subsidiary, ComfortDelGro Bus will be operating an EasyMile EZ10 autonomous shuttle, which will be funded by Inchcape Singapore.
A shuttle that can carry 15 passengers will travel along a 1.6km route in NUS between Heng Mui Keng Terrace and Business Link.
But during the initial stage of the trial, the shuttle will not take any passengers. It will focus on collecting data for its mapping and navigation systems.
A safety engineer will be on board the shuttle to ensure safe operation of the vehicle, as well as to provide engineering expertise.
"Once the trial management team is satisfied that the shuttle is ready for commuter trials, passengers will be able to start boarding the vehicle," ComfortDelGro said.
The shuttle bus will be operating in "real mixed traffic conditions", meaning that it will be driving alongside other vehicles on the road.
The EZ10 autonomous shuttle, according to the news release, runs entirely on electricity and has autonomous vehicle (AV) technology that combines robotics and artificial intelligence.
It will only rely on its internal software and hardware, with no reliance on external infrastructure, ComfortDelGro said.
It has been deployed successfully in similar traffic conditions in countries like France, Germany, Norway, Australia and Japan.
"We believe the experiences gained from these trials will help us gain greater insight into how to become an AV fleet operator in the years to come," said ComfortDelGro's managing director and group CEO Yang Ban Seng.
If the trial is successful, it could be commercially rolled out, said the news release.
"In this era of digitalisation and smart technologies, the use of autonomous vehicles as a mode of transport is not a question of 'if' but 'when'," added Professor Chen Tsuhan, NUS deputy president (Research and Technology).
This will be ComfortDelgro's third foray into the autonomous vehicle sphere in Singapore - with two other ongoing trials in Sentosa and Jurong Island by its subsidiary SBS Transit.