Singapore LTA selects nuTonomy for trials of autonomous mobility-on-demand transportation service; new AV testing center
In addition to Delphi (earlier post), Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) has also selected nuTonomy to begin trials of an autonomous mobility-on-demand transportation service. The partnership will expand and accelerate the nuTonomy’s development efforts in Singapore as it progresses towards the launch of a commercial autonomous vehicle (AV) service in 2018.
Delphi and nuTonomy were shortlisted from several participants which submitted proposals for autonomous mobility-on-demand concepts under the Request for Information (RFI) issued by LTA in June last year. (Besides mobility-on-demand services, LTA is also exploring SDVs for other public transport applications, such as self-driving buses.)
LTA’s collaboration with Delphi and nuTonomy comes under the Singapore Autonomous Vehicle Initiative (SAVI), which oversees and manages AV research, test-bedding, and the development of applications and solutions by industry partners and stakeholders.
If the trials of the Delphi and nuTonomy self-driving vehicles prove successful, the projects would be developed into full-scale mobility solutions for towns in Singapore. Commuters will then have access to an even wider range of public transport options, especially for first-and-last-mile travel, thereby further reducing the reasons to move around in a private car.Commuters will be able to summon autonomous shuttles or pods using their smartphones, and the shuttles or pods will bring them in air-conditioned comfort from point to point, for example, from their doorsteps to the train stations. This provides a more comfortable option for first-and-last-mile connectivity. It will also bring greater mobility to the elderly and other commuters who may have difficulties in taking present-day public transport such as buses.
Singapore-based nuTonomy is the first, and to date, only private enterprise approved by the Singapore government for the testing of AVs on public roads. The company has been conducting AV tests on a daily basis since April in Singapore’s one-north business district. Under the partnership with LTA, nuTonomy will conduct a program of enhanced trials that will simulate the experience of an autonomous mobility-on-demand service by allowing select users to request, interact with, and ride in a nuTonomy AV.
Founded in 2013 by Drs Karl Iagnemma and Emilio Frazzoli, nuTonomy has been conducting on-road testing with its Mitsubishi i-MiEV in one-north. nuTonomy is currently working to launch an autonomous mobility-on-demand service with a fleet of five to ten vehicles in Singapore in 2018, whereby commuters will be able to summon a vehicle through a smartphone application to bring them from their doorsteps to their selected destinations.
Delphi Automotive Systems has been testing its self-driving technology in the United States, where an Audi SQ5 prototype completed a coast-to-coast drive from San Francisco to New York in 99%autonomous mode last year. As part of their proposal, Delphi aims to trial and operationalize a fleet of five shared self-driving vehicles for first-and-last-mile travel, with the potential to scale up the technology for self-driving shuttle services to serve an entire town.Center of Excellence for Testing & Research of AVs – NTU (CETRAN). To enable Singapore to move closer to its goal of deploying self-driving vehicles (SDVs) for shared transport, the LTA and JTC, in partnership with the Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore), launched the Center of Excellence for Testing & Research of AVs – NTU (CETRAN) and Test Circuit at CleanTech Park.
JTC Corporation, formed in 1968, is the lead agency in Singapore to spearhead the planning, promotion and development of a dynamic industrial landscape.
CETRAN will spearhead the development of testing requirements for SDVs, as there is no existing international standard. This would allow SDVs to be integrated with existing road traffic. These efforts will be supported by the 1.8-ha CETRAN Test Circuit, jointly developed by LTA and JTC to provide a simulated road environment for the testing of SDVs prior to their deployment on public roads.
Although many countries and cities are testing self-driving vehicles, we have yet to see international standards and regulations suitable for large-scale deployment of SDVs. The launch of CETRAN and the Test Circuit will put Singapore at the global forefront to develop such standards, to safely integrate SDVs into our transport system. It’s also a significant step towards realising our vision of SDVs being used for first- and last-mile connectivity in our towns.—Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo
NTU will lead research activities at CETRAN, operate the Test Circuit and evaluate the SDV prototypes to be tested there. The Test Circuit will also be open to industry players for the development and testing of their own SDVs as they work towards meeting the standards set by CETRAN. The Test Circuit is expected to be operational in the second half of 2017.
CETRAN will also house a research team formed by NTU that will perform testing in a computer-simulated environment representative of Singapore’s traffic conditions, to complement the tests being performed in the test circuit.
The LTA-NTU agreement will see CETRAN being operated by NTU for a period of five years, during which NTU will collaborate with various international Testing, Inspection and Certification bodies, research institutions and industry partners on global standards and test requirements. These include BMW Group, testing body TÜV SÜD, the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) and TUM CREATE—a joint research collaboration between NTU and the Technical University of Munich.