SINGAPORE: Two self-driving road sweepers will go on trial at one-north, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and CleanTech Park, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Ministry of Transport (MOT) in a joint media release on Wednesday (Jan 13).
The proof-of-concept trials for two Autonomous Environmental Service Vehicles (AESVs) were launched by NEA and will run until July 2021, said the authorities.
The trials will be conducted in designated testbed environments at one-north, NTU and CleanTech Park at the Jurong Innovation District.
"The projects are part of NEA’s Environmental Robotics Programme and are in line with NEA’s continual efforts to better optimise resources, drive innovation, push technology adoption, and improve productivity across the Environmental Services industry," said NEA and MOT.
The trials come after the NEA and MOT awarded two consortiums to design, develop and test the vehicles in March 2019.
The first consortium comprised NTU, Enway, SembWaste and Wong Fong Engineering Works.
The other consortium comprised ST Engineering and 800 Super Waste Management.
Trials of the vehicles will be conducted in a progressive manner, starting with off-peak timings such as weekends and evenings.
Both vehicle units have undergone rigorous safety assessments by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and were approved for public road trials in small-scale testbed environments, said NEA and MOT.
In line with the safety framework for autonomous vehicle trials, a safety driver will be on board the vehicles at all times. The driver is trained to take immediate control of the vehicle when needed.
The operation of each vehicle will be monitored in real-time from a command centre by an off-site operator who can deploy the units on different cleaning routes based on cleaning needs.
All AESV test vehicles will display prominent decals and markings for easy identification by other road users and in line with the safety framework.
"The application of AV (automated vehicle) technology to mechanical road sweepers will enable service providers to adopt more innovative technologies to raise the standards, productivity and professionalism of the ES (Environmental Services) industry," said NEA and MOT.
The authorities added that successful completion of the proof-of-concept trials will pave the way for the pilot deployment of the vehicles for road cleaning in the early 2020s.
Mr Daryl Yeo, Director (Futures & Transformation) at MOT said: "The pilot deployment of AESVs will help shift cleaning activities to off-peak hours such as late night hours and reduce road congestion.
"This demonstrates the strong potential of autonomous systems to make our transport network more efficient and future-ready.”
AESVs MODIFIED FROM EXISTING MECHANICAL SWEEPERS
The AESVs were developed with support from the National Robotics Programme and various public agencies, said the authorities.
The vehicles were also modified from existing mechanical sweepers with multiple sensors on all sides of the vehicles and computing units in the cabin.
The NTU consortium unit is fully electric and has lower noise output compared to conventional sweepers, while producing zero carbon emissions.
Its operation can be shifted to late nights or early mornings, thus avoiding rush hours and optimising road usage.
The public road trials of the vehicle was tested at the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous Vehicles at NTU (CETRAN) in small-scale testbed environments.
The other AESV unit was designed and developed by ST Engineering in collaboration with 800 Super.
Compared to conventional road sweepers, the unit saves up to 60 per cent water usage.
It is also fitted with a suite of sensors that provides all-round obstacle detection that allows the vehicle to sense its environment to navigate safely during sweeping operations and on the move.
The ST Engineering consortium unit has completed scenario-based public road trials in one-north under light traffic conditions.
NEA's chief technology officer Patrick Pang said: "The commencement of the Autonomous Environmental Service Vehicles road trials marks a key milestone in its R&D journey, which aims to augment manpower in the Environmental Services industry, particularly the cleaning sector."