LTA seeks proposals on driverless cars for public transport

(From left) The NTU (Nanyang Technological University) Autonomous Vehicle, the ST Kinetics TERRAV and the SMART (Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology) Shared Computer Operated Transport. LTA has issued a request for information seeking
(From left) The NTU (Nanyang Technological University) Autonomous Vehicle, the ST Kinetics TERRAV and the SMART (Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology) Shared Computer Operated Transport. LTA has issued a request for information seeking proposals on how autonomous vehicle technology can be harnessed for public transport. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Will autonomous vehicle technology solve the perennial shortage of bus drivers? Will taxis of the future no longer disappear just before midnight?

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has issued a request for information seeking proposals on how autonomous vehicle technology can be harnessed for public transport - a move that it described as "taking the next step towards shaping how AV technology can potentially meet our future transport needs".

Through the exercise, the LTA hopes to learn if autonomous vehicles - popularly called driverless vehicles - can be deployed as part of a mass-transport service that operates on fixed routes and scheduled timings, such as a bus service.

The exercise will also explore if a network of shared autonomous vehicles can form a new mobility system for intra-town and inter-town travel, and thus, reducing reliance on cars.

The move is part of efforts under the Singapore Autonomous Vehicle Initiative, which was launched in August last year to oversee and manage AV research, test-bedding, and the development of applications and solutions by industry partners and stakeholders.

The findings of the exercise will also provide LTA with more information on what infrastructure is necessary to pave the way for autonomous vehicles to ply.

LTA chief executive Chew Men Leong said: "We are excited at the many possibilities of how AV technology can be harnessed... autonomous vehicles have the potential to optimise road capacity by moving in a compact, systematic manner."

christan@sph,com.sg