National University of Singapore trials autonomous shuttle

The fully autonomous shuttle is being trialled as part of a year-long study aimed at gauging the commercial viability of such a service.

Autocar Pro News Desk By Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 27 May 2019 Views icon12222 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

The National University of Singapore (NUS), which is said to be the first autonomous research university and the oldest higher education institute in Singapore, has began trials for fully autonomous shuttle at its Kent Ridge Campus.

The shuttle will be operated by Singapore-headquartered multi-national land transport company ComfortDelGro's wholly-owned subsidiary, ComfortDelGro Bus. The company will deploy EasyMile EZ10 autonomous bus shuttle, known as NUSmart Shuttle, which 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 begin on May 25, 2019, will see the NUSmart Shuttle operating on a 1.6 km route between Heng Mui Keng Terrace and Business Link within the NUS campus. The institute says the aim 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 5kph and 16kph during this period. 

Once the mapping process is completed, 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. The project is imported and funded by Inchcape Singapore a multi brand vertically-integrated business model, distributor and retailer of automotive brands, 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. NUS, says Inchcape Singapore is a strong supporter towards the adoption of technologies, and 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 will follow 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 AI, 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.

In addition to the the NUS trial, the ComfortDelGro Group, through its subsidiary, SBS Transit, is also participating in two ongoing trials – in Sentosa and Jurong Island – where it is assisting in data collection, operations modelling and development.

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