Two on-demand autonomous bus services launched in Singapore

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Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry has today (January 25, 2021) announced that two autonomous, on-demand, revenue-generating bus services, are to begin being trialed today in the city state.

The Alliance for Action (AfA) on Robotics, supported by CapitaLand and JTC, is deploying the services services, which will operate initially with onboard safety drivers, at Singapore Science Park 2 and Jurong Island. This marks the first time autonomous buses are operating a revenue service in Singapore, bringing local AV services and solutions one step closer towards commercialisation, domestically and abroad.

Through this pilot, the AfA aims to establish a track record which demonstrates services that meet commuters’ need for safe, reliable, and efficient modes of transportation. In order to gain more data and insights that will be valuable to the development of future urban mobility services, the two routes differ in physical conditions, commuter and partner mix, service and vehicle type, as well as operation concepts.

Facilitated by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA), the pilot will enable the partners to further develop and refine their capabilities, expertise, and service delivery, thus strengthening the local AV ecosystem.

This is in line with the AfA’s vision of developing global champions in robotics, and to position Singapore as a leading global operator and provider of end-to-end systems for autonomous transport in cities which are looking to implement sustainable, urban transport solutions.

The AfA has, in parallel, also been working with the trade unions to create relevant training and upskilling pathways for bus captains who will then be able to take on better jobs, such as managing commuter experience and overseeing the autonomous bus management system.

Route A

“We are happy that Singapore companies across different industries are stepping forward together to deliver an innovative and pioneering pilot in autonomous bus services, one that solves real unmet demand in the piloted locales,” notes Mr Tan Chong Meng, co-chair of the Emerging Stronger Taskforce (EST) – convened in response to the Covid-19 crisis, and chairman, JTC Corporation. “With the support of bus transport operators, transport workers like bus captains have acquired new skills and provided valuable input to the project. As confidence is built, further deployments can be hosted in JTC’s estates across Singapore to foster more collaboration opportunities, strengthen the ecosystem, and speed up the move towards autonomous mobility.”

“The AfA aims to operationalise autonomous transport successfully by creating strong and complementary partnerships that leverage the domain expertise of the partners,” says Mr Vincent Chong. “It is heartening to see the collaboration of large local enterprises including local bus transport operators, SMEs, and start-ups to form one business ecosystem to develop the autonomous transport industry in Singapore. Collectively, we will offer more sustainable, integrated public transport services, and build a track record that will position us well for overseas markets.”

Route B

“LTA has been working with our industry partners to deepen Singapore’s expertise in AVs and enable their safe deployment on our public roads. The AfA’s limited deployments of AV bus services with onboard safety drivers at Singapore Science Park 2 and Jurong Island are another key step in building up local capabilities in this emerging field,” notes Mr Ng Lang, CEO, LTA.

The pilot is expected to end on 30 April 2021, following which, the AfA will evaluate the findings before ascertaining next steps.

 

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs in charge of public agencies around the world as well as chairmen and CEOs of multinational transportation technology corporations. Tom's early career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).