Testing grounds for autonomous vehicles (AVs) are going to be expanded across all of western Singapore.
Areas like Bukit Timah, Clementi, Choa Chu Kang, Jurong and Woodlands will be included, opening up more than 1,000km of public roads to test AVs.
This was announced by Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary today (24 October) at the Autonomous Mobility Summit.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) says a larger testbed will allow companies to test AVs in more varied environments, under a wider range of traffic scenarios and road conditions, which was a need that had been brought up through industry feedback.
LTA also adds that wider testing could pave the way to providing “inter-town services and longer-haul journeys” in a safe manner in the future.
AVs have been tested on Singapore roads since 2015.
Current areas include Buona Vista, Jurong Island, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Sentosa. where companies like ST Engineering, ComfortDelGro and nuTonomy have been conducting tests.
Buona Vista is the largest of these existing test areas, but it still only comprises 70km of public roads, much less than the expanded testbed is expected to offer.
Before approval for on-road testing, AVs will be subject to thorough safety assessments, and they must display prominent decals or markings for road users to identify them easily.
A qualified safety driver must be present in case there’s a need to take over control immediately, and the AV must also be covered by third-party liability insurance.
Trials will be expanded in a “small-scale, incremental manner” over the next few years, and further expansion will only be approved after stringent competency tests.
LTA says a pilot deployment of AVs is slated for “the early 2020s”.
Featured Image Credit: UITP