In the first demonstration of its kind in the city-state, ComfortDelGro is embarking on a trial of an autonomous shuttle bus service in real-world traffic conditions at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Kent Ridge campus, with a view toward a commercial roll-out if successful.
As one of the world’s largest land transport operators, ComfortDelGro will lead the year-long autonomous shuttle bus operational trial, which will also involve Inchcape Singapore, NUS and French automated vehicle manufacturer EasyMile, and will commence in March 2019.
The pilot will be carried out using the EasyMile EZ10 autonomous shuttle which will be funded by Inchcape Singapore and operated by ComfortDelGro. The EZ10 shuttle, which has a total carrying capacity of 15 passengers, will run along a mile-long (1.6km) route at NUS between Heng Mui Keng Terrace and Business Link.
The autonomous shuttle bus service pilot, the first of its kind in Singapore by a transportation operator, is significant because it will be operating in real-world mixed traffic conditions, alongside regular buses, cars and motorcycles.
Another significant feature is that it will rely on its own internal array of software and hardware technologies for navigation on the roads, without any assistance from external infrastructure. A Safety Engineer will also be on board the autonomous shuttle during the trial to ensure safe operation of the vehicle, as well as to provide engineering expertise.
During the initial stage of the trial, the autonomous shuttle will be focused on collecting data for its mapping and navigation systems, and will not be open for passengers. Once the management team is satisfied that the shuttle is ready for commuter trials, passengers will be able to start using the vehicle.
The all-electric EasyMile EZ10 shuttle benefits from the latest in autonomous vehicle (AV) technology combining robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). A similar first-mile/last-mile trial is currently running in Forus, Norway, where the EZ10 is running on a route at regular intervals in an area consisting of 3,500 companies and 40,000 employees.
EZ10s were one of the first AVs to be deployed successfully in mixed traffic in programs in France, Germany, Norway, Australia, Japan and the USA. The latest trial marks ComfortDelGro’s third foray into the AV sphere in Singapore. Through its subsidiary, SBS Transit, it is currently participating in two ongoing trials, in Sentosa and Jurong Island, where it is assisting in data collection, operations modelling and development.
“We are excited to team up with three strong partners to undertake this latest AV trial which will be conducted in mixed traffic alongside regular vehicles on the road,” commented ComfortDelGro’s managing director and group CEO, Yang Ban Seng.
“We believe the experiences gained from these trials will help us gain greater insight into how to become an AV fleet operator in the years to come.”
Inchcape Singapore’s MD, Jasmmine Wong, said, “As a leading automotive distributor, we are completely behind the government especially on meaningful initiatives like these that are so significant that it could totally transform the face of transportation in Singapore. We hope to use Singapore as a shining beacon and pilot similar projects across Asia.”