Thanks to a new partnership between the government and Singapore and a local technology company, driverless buses – the first automated public transportation vehicles to hit the road in Singapore – are expected to be in regular operation by the beginning of 2020.
Yes, you are reading it correctly.
In just three short years the future of transportation is very much going to be staring us in the face, and folks all over Singapore – and the rest of the world – are paying close attention to how this experiment is going to unfold.
Two 40 seat electric buses are going to be launched in a pilot program
In anticipation for the major 2020 rollout, and to verify that all of the “bugs” have been worked out of these automated buses before they are available for public transportation use, ST Kinetics and the Land Transport Authority of Singapore are beginning with a small scale rollout of two different 40 seater electric buses that will be tested out in popular public transport locations throughout Singapore.
The first two locations that will have these buses implemented are to be the area surrounding the National University of Singapore campus and the Jurong Island area. The buses are likely to stay in these “local loops” for between 30 and 90 days before they are moved throughout the rest of Singapore to make sure that this kind of technology is viable for widespread adaptation across the board.
The technology “under the hood” of these driverless buses is groundbreaking
Leveraging major technological breakthroughs in automation, GPS technology and navigation, and high-definition/high-sensitivity sensors that can be installed pretty much anywhere on these buses, the combination of advanced technology in these driverless vehicles is something that hasn’t ever been seen in a commercial application before.
Taking advantage of major leaps forward in GPS satellite positioning technology, as well as new automated navigation technology, these buses are going to be able to stick to “loops” that have been preprogrammed – making stops along the way just as buses with physical drivers do, providing passengers with the exact same kind of experience though efficiency is going to improve as well.
The sensors that are to be used on these autonomous public transportation vehicles are very delicate, very sensitive, and are the same kind of sensors that are being tested by major American technology companies (such as Google and the like).
Though there are still some issues with the sensors working exactly as expected or anticipated in heavy rain, the test phase that these buses are going to go through before the major rollout are designed to work through these kinds of kinks and make sure that the full fleet of autonomous buses are ready to rock ‘n roll in 2020.
The future of automated vehicles is very bright
At the end of the day, we are really looking at the beginning of a new dawn of transportation.
The automobile has evolved over time, and this next step in evolution has the potential to revolutionize the transportation industry the same way that the introduction of the automobile did. These tests are very, very important and the people of Singapore (as well as the rest of the world) are watching for results very closely.
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