New centre for testing and research on driverless vehicles

Start-up nuTonomy's self-driving Renault Zoe (left) is one of the vehicles that will be tested at the centre's circuit for autonomous vehicles.
Start-up nuTonomy's self-driving Renault Zoe (left) is one of the vehicles that will be tested at the centre's circuit for autonomous vehicles.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

A new centre for the testing and research of autonomous vehicles was launched yesterday at a business park adjacent to the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

The centre will have a 1.8ha test circuit with roundabouts, slopes and even an area with simulated rainfall, to test the running of these autonomous, or self-driving, cars.

Called the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous Vehicles - NTU (Cetran), it is located at JTC's CleanTech Park just outside NTU. The centre, which will lead the development of testing requirements for such vehicles, was launched by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and JTC, in partnership with NTU.

"With the establishment of Cetran, Singapore has the potential to take the lead in the setting of regulatory standards to test and certify self-driving vehicles in an urban setting," said LTA chief executive Chew Men Leong.

The launch was attended by Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo, who called it a "significant step" towards the use of autonomous vehicles for first- and last-mile trips here.

Research at Cetran, which will be operational by the fourth quarter this year, will be led by NTU.

The centre will have about 30 researchers working on programming and virtual simulation for autonomous vehicles, said Professor Subodh Mhaisalkar, executive director of the Energy Research Institute at NTU, which is spearheading research efforts at the university.

He said cyber security was also a concern, and researchers would work to ensure that the vehicles' systems could not be hacked.

The centre's test circuit, which is jointly developed by the LTA and JTC and expected to be ready in the second half of next year, will allow autonomous vehicles to be tested on a simulated road environment before being allowed on public roads. The vehicles will be evaluated on their adaptability to traffic rules, road design and climate.

Mr Chew said the circuit complements the existing autonomous vehicle test bed at one-north and will be used to test autonomous vehicles before they are tried out in urban traffic conditions at the business park.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2016, with the headline 'New centre for testing and research on driverless vehicles'. Print Edition | Subscribe