SINGAPORE: Following various trials on the use of driverless cars and buses, Singapore is now ready to put driverless trucks to the test, announced the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and PSA Corporation in a joint news release.
The trucks will be used to transport containers from one port terminal to another.
Agreements were signed on Monday (Jan 9) with two automotive companies, Scania and Toyota Tusho, to develop and test-bed an autonomous truck platooning system. This involves a human-driven lead truck leading a convoy of driverless trucks.
"Efficient freight movement is critical to the competitiveness of our port. Truck platooning will also alleviate our shortage of manpower, and allow more freight movement to be conducted at night to ease traffic congestion," said the joint release.
"It will also open up opportunities for truck drivers to take on higher-skilled roles as fleet operators and managers", added Mr Pang Kin Keong, Permanent Secretary for Transport and chairman of the Committee on Autonomous Road Transport in Singapore.
Illustration of autonomous truck platooning technology.
The trials will take place in two phases over a three-year period from January 2017 to December 2019. The first phase will be conducted by Scania and Toyota in their respective research centres in Sweden and Japan. They will focus on designing, testing and refining the truck platooning technology to adapt to local conditions.
Depending on those outcomes, MOT and PSA Corporation will then select one of the companies for phase two, which will involve local trials and some development of the technology in Singapore.
A 10km-long test route along West Coast Highway has been designated for the trials, which will "initially involve inter-terminal haulage between Brani Terminal and Pasir Panjang Terminals, and may eventually be scaled up for haulage within the port area, as well as between Pasir Panjang Terminals and Tuas Port," said the joint release.
"As PSA prepares for our future terminals at Tuas, it is timely that we move on to the next steps in developing autonomous truck platooning technology," said PSA International's regional CEO for Southeast Asia Ong Kim Pong, adding that it would help the port better serve customers through fast and efficient inter-terminal container movement.