Auto technology firm Continental sets up joint lab here to work on self-drive cars

A new joint research laboratory here could bring self-driving cars one step closer to reality.

On Tuesday morning, automotive supplier Continental Automotive Singapore signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R) and the Technical University of Munich's Create centre here, TUM-Create, to set up an Intelligent Transport Systems laboratory to study new automotive technologies that use communications and information networks.

For instance, cars that were automated enough to safely get closer to each other and "talk" to each other could be squeezed together more tightly in traffic, reducing the amount of land needed for road space here, suggested TUM professor of computer science Alois Knoll.

And if cars, trains and scooters were synchronised, a commuter might never miss a train again if he could step out of one and into another mode of transport seamlessly, he added.

The lab, a three-year collaboration, will be based at I2R at Fusionopolis, and start off with two engineers from each organisation, said I2R executive director Dr Lee Shiang Long. The specific projects it is working on have yet to be finalised, he added, but they will be technologies that can be commercialised in the short term.

Continental managing director Mr Lo Kien Foh said the lab would be a potential "living laboratory" for the conceptualisation and test-bedding of future intelligent transport solutions for Asia.