In a recent Internet Of Things (IOT) Asia Show, Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and also the Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Programme Office, Minister Vivian Balakrishnan shared that Singapore is currently “looking at” autonomous minibuses and vehicles to ferry commuters from MRT stations to their homes.
This solution, which will be available on demand, will literally bring you to the doorstep of your house or from the doorstep of your house to the train station or bus interchange.
“People hear about Google cars and the rest of it. Actually from our perspective, the real killer app for autonomous vehicles is not the driverless car – as interesting as that may be – but really to solve the challenge of the last 500 meters, meaning from the MRT station to your doorstep”.
According to the Minister, the pilot programme of this last mile driverless minibuses will starting off in One-North, an area which is also known as one of the most concentrated innovation hub in Singapore with innovation clusters such as Blk71, Blk73 and many more.
While not much details have been revealed, a recent report from IEEE suggests that a new startup called nuTonomy is currently piloting a driverless taxi in One North. Here’s what we know:
- nuTonomy, a driverless car startup that spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology three years ago.
- The company raised $3.6 million in seed funding in January 2016.
- To use nuTonomy, you’ll call a self-driving car to you via your phone, insert your destination, and then sit back and let the car drive you there.
- A fully autonomous taxi service is scheduled to be piloted in Singapore later this year.
- Earlier last week, nuTonomy is said to have passed its first driving test in Singapore. This means that the driverless taxi navigated a custom obstacle course without an incident.
- nuTonomy is currently working on getting an approval for on-road testing in One North.
- According to the company’s CEO Karl Iagnemma, “Singapore is completely aligned behind this technology”. ‘They want it to happen, and they’re going to make sure it does.”
- In a few years, nuTonomy aims to deploy thousands of driverless taxis in Singapore, with the company acting as the service provider to maintain the vehicles and determine when and how they can be operated safely.
How does it look like? This:
With the government putting their support behind this, we expect this to be the future of transportation in Singapore. However, will this put public bus operators or taxi drivers out of job? According to nuTonomy’s CEO, that is unlikely the case – in Singapore, the Government wants to have more buses, however, it is challenging to find bus drivers to drive buses at night.
“Robotics will not put these people out of jobs — it will provide more capacity and support that’s needed.”
Featured Image Credit: nuTonomy