Driverless shuttles being tested on Sentosa

Driverless shuttles have begun plying a 1km stretch of Tanjong Beach as part of testing that began yesterday ahead of a public trial next year. The shuttles will eventually ply a 5km route on the island. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT

From next year, visitors to Sentosa will be able to use their smartphones to hail a driverless shuttle to take them around the resort island.

The three-month trial will see four vehicles - two 22-seater mini buses as well as two 15-seater shuttles - transport staff and visitors along a 5km route on the island.

But even before that, visitors will be able to see the shuttles plying a 1km stretch of Tanjong Beach, as part of testing that began yesterday.

This will be extended to a 2km route linking Palawan and Siloso beaches by the end of this year.

However, the service will not be available to members of the public during this period.

Developed by ST Engineering as part of a collaboration with the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and Sentosa Development Corporation, the shuttles use technology such as radar and lidar (light detection and ranging) to navigate.

The electric vehicles will also incorporate ST Engineering's autonomous vehicle management system to analyse passenger demand and manage routes.

MOT's Permanent Secretary Loh Ngai Seng said the trial was a "key milestone" in Singapore's vision to employ autonomous vehicles as part of the public transport system.

"The insights gained from this trial will allow us to better understand how the technology can be deployed to strengthen intra-town connectivity and enhance mobility for commuters, particularly the elderly and persons with disabilities," said Mr Loh, who also chairs the Committee on Autonomous Road Transport for Singapore.

ST Engineering Land Systems president Lee Shiang Long said: "The outcomes of the trials will provide valuable input and data on the performance of the vehicle under various road conditions, and allow us to fine-tune its responses to them."

Autonomous vehicles are also being tested on the roads in the one-north business district - earmarked by the authorities in 2015 as a test site for such vehicles - as well as on the Nanyang Technological University campus grounds.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2018, with the headline Driverless shuttles being tested on Sentosa. Subscribe