Singapore a good test bed for driverless cars

Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi is not alone in his concern over the adoption of driverless or autonomous vehicles on Singapore roads ("Go slow in adopting driverless cars"; last Friday).

The technology is inchoate and imperfect - and will never be perfect. The implementation is fraught with legal complications and its disruptive consequences are not entirely appreciated yet.

But the same can be said of the then nascent technology that we had also initially put our faith in, such as hospital systems, robotic surgery, port operations, air traffic control and transportation systems.

Erring on the side of caution has always been emblematic of Singapore.

But we have been first to introduce novel driving experiences, like Electronic Road Pricing. These have worked so well that major cities overseas have paid us the ultimate compliment by initiating similar schemes.

As a nation with excellent roads, consistent weather conditions and drivers who may be lousy and inconsiderate, Singapore is an excellent test bed for autonomous vehicles.

Computerised and disciplined adherence to the Highway Code is preferred to hot-headed human recklessness.

I am enamoured of the idea of a driverless car being kept on the road continuously to serve the needs of an extended family.

This will lessen the incentive of people to own several cars.

There will surely be less road rage and, more importantly, increased productivity and fuel savings, as autonomous cars can divert their routes to avoid congestion. I can turn my car into an office, churning out fruitful work during the drive.

It's a brave new world for those with the derring-do to lead the paradigm shift and adopt the new technology.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore a good test bed for driverless cars'. Subscribe