Driverless vehicle trial routes expand by 55km to NUS, Buona Vista and Dover

LTA has expanded the length of current autonomous vehicle trial routes by 55km.
LTA has expanded the length of current autonomous vehicle trial routes by 55km. PHOTO: NUTONOMY

SINGAPORE - Driverless vehicles can now ply a wider area, adding four times the length of current routes from Friday (June 23), as the Land Transport Authority (LTA) expands ongoing trials.

These autonomous vehicles (AV) can now be tested in the National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore Sciences Park 1 and 2, Dover and Buona Vista, adding another 55km to the existing AV trial routes, LTA said in a release on Friday (June 23).

These areas are near the current test bed in one-north, which now covers routes measuring 12km. The length of test routes in one-north was doubled, from 6km, in September 2016.

Explaining its move, LTA said that the larger test bed will "allow AV trial participants to experience more on-road scenarios which will help accelerate technology development".

Those who wish to conduct trials in mixed-use and residential estates in Dover and Buona Vista will need to demonstrate to LTA and Traffic Police that they are able to handle more dynamic traffic environments in autonomous mode, LTA said.

To inform the public, signboards will be displayed in test areas to indicate that trials are taking place. Test vehicles will also have decals and markings for easy recognition by road users.

Under the Road Traffic Act, LTA is empowered to regulate AV trials to safeguard the safety of road users, it added.

For instance, all test vehicles are required to undergo a thorough vehicle safety assessment before they can hit the roads.

Said LTA's chief technology officer Lam Wee Shann: "To achieve our car-lite vision, it is imperative that we facilitate and pave the way for the future deployment of shared autonomous transport modes.

"Deploying AVs for shared transport will help enhance our first- and last-mile commute and bring greater mobility to the elderly and other commuters who may have difficulties in taking public transport today."

Start-up nuTonomy, whose AVs are being used in the trials, said that extending the test routes “is an important step forward for Singapore and nuTonomy, but is also an important milestone for the development of autonomous vehicles in urban environments globally.”

A spokesman added that the data and insight gathered from trials in the larger test bed will “help accelerate nuTonomy’s progress towards the roll-out of a commercial autonomous vehicle business model".