NTU gets new driverless shuttle bus to ferry students across campus

The driverless shuttle bus is expected to travel a 500m route connecting student halls with the main academic areas. ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE - Nanyang Technological University (NTU) students will soon be able to go for their lunch breaks and travel to classes on a driverless shuttle bus.

By the fourth quarter of this year, one such vehicle - which can ferry about 24 people at a time - is expected to travel a 500m route connecting student halls with the main academic areas, ferrying up to 300 passengers a day.

This route will see it encountering real world obstacles such as pedestrians and traffic.

On Monday (April 16), the university signed an agreement with SMRT Services, the operations and maintenance arm of the transport operator, and Dutch firm 2getthere to introduce the vehicles to NTU's campus.

Since November last year, the vehicle has been on trial along a 350m route between two student halls on the NTU campus, and has safely ferried about 4,000 passengers since then.

The vehicle will eventually travel across the entire campus, and is also expected to connect NTU to the neighbouring CleanTech Park.

NTU president Subra Suresh noted that the university has been testing such autonomous vehicles since 2012.

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"Like other autonomous vehicles at NTU, it is a perfect example of a seamless first-and-last-mile connectivity solution," he said, adding it could act as a "horizontal lift" providing on-demand transport for users.

Testing within the campus allows such vehicles to be tested within a controlled environment, before NTU engages with the authorities on how it can work within Singapore's transport environment, he said.

The autonomous vehicle will also be integrated into a service, dubbed Jalan-Jalan, that integrates various transport modes on campus such as e-scooters, e-bikes and shuttle buses.

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