LTA and ST Kinetics team up to develop and trial autonomous buses in Singapore

Yon Heong Tung

LTA first announced its plans to develop autonomous buses when it inked a partnership with Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N)

Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) has announced it has inked a partnership agreement with ST Kinetics, the land systems and specialty vehicles arm of ST Engineering, to develop and trial autonomous buses.

The announcement comes about six months after LTA signed a similar agreement with Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N). In that deal, LTA said it will be trialling two 12-metre autonomous buses across NTU, Cleantech Park and Pioneer MRT stations.

For its new partnership with ST Kinetics, LTA said they will jointly develop two 40-seater electric buses. These autonomous buses will have a 3-doors configuration and will be able to run at a speed of 60km/h for up to 50km.

These buses will be able to communicate with other autonomous buses and its base of operations through WiFI and 4G equipment. It will use a GPS system and sensors to determine its location and scan its surroundings. Additionally, 200 metre-range radars and sonars will be outfitted to detect other vehicles or pedestrians.

ST Kinetics also said it will work on improving its autonomous buses ability to run in heavier rain conditions, up to 30mm/h.

This project will run for three and a half years and will be potentially trialled at the Jurong Island and NUS’ campus during off-peak periods. Other complex test sites will be introduced as the buses’ tech becomes more advanced. If the tests go well, these autonomous buses will ply selected routes by 2020.

Image Credit: LTA

In a report by Today Online, LTA also announced it will test trial four autonomous mobility vehicles at the Sentosa Island. The 15-seater Navya Arma and 20-seater ST Kinetics Shuttle will be available to visitors by 2018.

“Currently, most AV technology developers are focusing their efforts on developing self-driving cars. Singapore’s need for high-capacity vehicles to address commuters’ peak-hour demands presents an opportunity for companies such as ST Kinetics to develop autonomous buses to address this latent demand. This is also in line with the whole-of-government effort to explore and apply smart technologies to improve our lives,” said LTA’s Chief Technology Officer, Lam Wee Shann, in an official press release.

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