SINGAPORE: There will be more space for driverless vehicles to be tested in one-north, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced on Tuesday (Oct 18). The trial area is being expanded, and more infrastructure will be installed.
In September, the test route was doubled from 6km to 12km, allowing researchers to put their driverless vehicles through longer distances and more challenging terrain at one-north, said LTA. It is working with JTC to identify more roads around the area where testing can take place.
Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology researcher Scott Pendleton, who is working on the project, welcomed the move.
"Before we had more busy office congestion and multi-lane roads, but now we also have some hillier, narrow lanes, in more residential type of environments so we can prove our algorithms over a wider range of scenarios," he explained.
One-north is host to the first trials of driverless vehicles on public roads in Singapore. So far, four organisations have been conducting trials in the area since January 2015.
More infrastructure has also been installed since July to better support the on-road trials, and to allow authorities to identify where potential challenges lie. For example, CCTVs have been put in place at 20 locations along the test route, such as traffic light intersections. These areas are where authorities "foresee challenges in maneuvers", according to LTA Intelligent Transport Systems Development manager Joanne Cheong. "In the event there is any incident, it will facilitate us to investigate the situation," she said.
Sensor beacons that transmit information to the driverless vehicles are also being installed at 10 road junctions at one-north. These broadcast information like traffic light signals and traffic conditions to the driverless vehicles, allowing them to better navigate the roads.
For example, the car would normally assume the traffic light is red and stop if its view of the lights is blocked from its camera's view – such as by a large lorry in front of it – at a traffic light junction. With a camera beacon, the car could receive information that the light is in fact green and move off sooner from the stop, Mr Pendleton explained.
He added that the sensor beacons become crucial if the vehicles' cameras are compromised, such as during heavy downpours or hazy conditions.
Sensor beacon that transmits information to driverless vehicles (Photo: Olivia Siong)
On the backend, a system housed at LTA’s Intelligent Transport Systems Centre analyses the driverless vehicles’ performance from the data that is generated. The system also sends out alerts if the vehicles travel in driverless mode outside the test area.
LTA said the information will help it decide if more infrastructure needs to be installed at the test-bed.