A fully autonomous shuttle is going on trial at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Kent Ridge campus, as part of a year-long study aimed at gauging the commercial viability of such a service.
To be operated by ComfortDelGro’s wholly-owned subsidiary, ComfortDelGro Bus Pte Ltd, the EasyMile EZ10 autonomous bus shuttle, known as NUSmart Shuttle, will first embark on a 1.5 month-long road test at NUS’ Kent Ridge Campus before commencing the trial proper. This trial is in line with NUS’ ongoing efforts to build a smart, safe and sustainable campus.
The road test, which begun on 25 May 2019, will see the NUSmart Shuttle plying a 1.6 km route between Heng Mui Keng Terrace and Business Link within the NUS campus. The key purpose of the road test is to “map” the route through the collection of data for the vehicle’s navigation systems. To ensure the mapping is done accurately, the shuttle will be travelling at between 5km/h and 16km/h during this period.
Upon completion of the mapping process, the NUSmart Shuttle will run a validation test for three hours daily over a four-week period. During this time, the shuttle will not be taking passengers.
Following the road test, the NUSmart Shuttle is expected to commence the passenger service trial in the third quarter of the year. Funded and imported by Inchcape Singapore, it will be the first autonomous shuttle bus that is being run by a land transport operator in real mixed traffic conditions, alongside regular buses, cars and motorcycles. Inchcape Singapore, a strong supporter towards the adoption of technologies, also provides technical expertise on vehicle type approval.
Based on EasyMile’s robust autonomous technology, the NUSmart Shuttle is fully electric and can carry up to 12 people. The driverless shuttle follows a predefined route and is equipped with a full range of sensors to detect and avoid potential obstacles. It relies on its own internal array of software and hardware technologies for its navigation on the roads, without any assistance of external infrastructure. Benefitting from the latest developments in robotics and Artificial Intelligence, it is today the most deployed autonomous shuttle in the world with over 230 sites in more than 26 countries.
The NUSmart Shuttle is a driverless vehicle although it will have a Safety Operator on board for safety reasons. The Safety Operator will be on hand to provide information to passengers and ensure safe operation of the vehicle.
Besides the NUS trial, the ComfortDelGro Group, through its subsidiary, SBS Transit Ltd, is currently participating in two ongoing trials – in Sentosa and Jurong Island – where it is assisting in data collection, operations modelling and development.