With much buzz and hype coming from autonomous vehicles (AVs) taking over public roads in most parts of the world, Singapore is now looking to expand the locations to be covered for the trials of AVs in Western Singapore including public roads in Bukit Timah, Clementi and Jurong.
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The expanded testbed is approximated to free up more than 1,000 kilometers of public roads for companies to conduct the tests.
Autonomous Vehicles Expected to Undergo Trials Across Western Singapore
According to Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary on Thursday (Oct 24), the expansion is expected to take place gradually over the next several years in a small-scale, incremental manner, and public safety will continue to be the top priority, as shared in a report by the Straits Times.
In line with these developments, Dr. Janil explained that public acceptance is a key success factor for widespread adoption of autonomous mobility. However, the immediate challenge to this would most certainly be in the event that accidents were to occur.
For its part, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said that the expansion was in response to industry feedback for a more varied testing environment, and gives companies the chance “to progressively conduct on-road testing in a wider range of traffic scenarios and road conditions.”
In a statement, the LTA shared:”This will support the robust testing of AVs’ capabilities to provide inter-town services and longer-haul journeys in a safe manner, and pave the way for the planned pilot deployment of AVs in the early 2020s.”
Back in 2017, the Government identified Punggol, Tengah and the Jurong Innovation District as areas where residents and workers can take self-driving buses and shuttles for their first- and last-mile commutes, which was introduced under a pilot programme.
The LTA will engage local grassroots and community leaders ahead of time if there are plans to conduct AV trials in their specific constituencies.
As part of the trial program, all AVs will have to display prominent decals and markings to ensure easy identification by other road users, and will have to go through a thorough safety assessment before they are approved for on-road trials.
Furthermore, AVs will need to continue to have a qualified safety driver “who is ready to take over immediate control of the vehicle should the need arise”.
Aside from the technicalities set the authority for the tests to be launched, much weight lies on the safety protocols and measures enforced by the groups involved in the tests.
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