Singapore’s Ministry of Transport (MOT) and the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA Corporation) have signed agreements with two automotive companies, Scania and Toyota Tsusho, to design, develop and testbed an autonomous truck platooning system for use on the city-state’s public roads.
The Government of Singapore is at the forefront of new autonomous vehicle technology, having already overseen trials of self-driving cars, taxis, utility vehicles and buses, and is now adding trials of truck platooning concepts, which have already shown the potential to achieve major fuel savings, as well as contribute to increased road safety. The new agreements follow on from a Request for Proposals (RFP) exercise, linked to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the MOT and PSA in October 2015 to collaborate and co-fund truck platooning projects.
Scania and Toyota were shortlisted for the trials based on the quality of their proposals and strong track records in both truck manufacturing and the development of self-driving technology. Both companies will be working to develop technologies to enable heavy vehicles to move in leader-follower formation, as well as to fully automate the processes for precise docking and undocking of cargo. The aim is to organize convoys of four trucks, with the following three trucks autonomously driven.
The truck platooning trials will take place in two phases over a three-year period from January 2017 to December 2019. The first phase, lasting about a year, will focus on designing, testing and refining the truck platooning technology to adapt to local conditions. The trials will be conducted by Scania and Toyota in their respective research centers in Sweden and Japan, to make use of their existing development work. Scania is currently working on enhancing wireless communication between heavy vehicles, which will allow the distances between vehicles to be safely reduced, reducing drag and lowering fuel consumption. The company has recently teamed up with the Ericsson telecommunications group, which will contribute its expertise in 5G technology, as well as software and services, to assist in the project. Toyota Tsusho has been awarded funding by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to conduct trials on truck platooning technology, and will lead a consortium to advance the program.
Depending on the outcomes of the Phase 1 trials, MOT and PSA Corporation will then select one of the companies for Phase 2, which will consist of local trials and some development of the technology in Singapore. A 6.2-mile long (10km) test route along West Coast Highway has been designated for the phase 2 trials, which will initially involve inter-terminal freight haulage between Brani Terminal and Pasir Panjang Terminals, and may eventually be scaled up for haulage within the port area, as well as between the Terminals and Tuas Port.
Mark Cameron, country manager at Scania Singapore, commented, “We are well advanced in cutting edge autonomous technology, as well as in platooning. Singapore has launched several autonomous vehicle initiatives and together we will now demonstrate how we can substantially enhance productivity in the Port of Singapore.”