Joint Release by the Land Transport Authority, JTC & A*STAR - A SAVI Step Towards Autonomous Transport

News Releases
27 Aug 2014

  • LTA collaborates with A*STAR to set up Singapore Autonomous Vehicle Initiative (SAVI)
  • Autonomous Vehicle Testing at live environment in JTC’s one-north from 1 Jan 2015

1. Imagine a future where shared driverless cars bring you to where you want to go before picking up another person, and restore mobility for the blind and handicapped. Or buses that move on their own. Welcome to the future of autonomous transport.

A platform for greater R&D collaboration

2. To bring us closer to this future, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is looking at ways to learn and understand the potential opportunities and challenges that Autonomous Vehicle (AV) technology has for Singapore. To this end, LTA and A*STAR have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a joint partnership to set up the Singapore Autonomous Vehicle Initiative (SAVI). SAVI will provide a technology platform with a joint programme office to oversee and manage research and development (R&D) and test-bedding of AV technology, applications and solutions for industry partners and stakeholders.

3. The formation of SAVI will support the Committee on Autonomous Road Transport for Singapore (CARTS) to holistically chart the strategic direction for AV-enabled land mobility concepts in Singapore.

4. Under the five-year MOU, LTA will play a regulatory role in aligning AV research towards the eventual goal of implementing driverless vehicles and AV-enabled mobility concepts in Singapore’s transport network.

5. As the lead agency for R&D in Singapore, A*STAR will leverage on its expertise in infocomm and autonomous systems to develop AV technologies, formulate roadmaps and conduct R&D test-beds.

6. Currently, there are several ongoing AV test-bedding projects in Singapore. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in collaboration with the National University of Singapore (NUS), is testing a fleet of autonomous golf buggies as a car-sharing concept, as well as a driverless car, within NUS. At the Nanyang Technological University, a driverless shuttle that can seat up to 10 people is also being tested. For more information on the ongoing AV trial projects, please refer to the Annex.

7. Through SAVI, the LTA and A*STAR plan to explore R&D in the following areas:

  • Autonomous Vehicles: The research partnership will look at the feasibility of having AV (e.g. driverless buses) for a mass transport service that operates on fixed routes and scheduled timings. This can alleviate Singapore’s heavy reliance on manpower.
  • Autonomous mobility system: Another area of exploration is a new mobility system for intra-town travel in future residential developments using a network of customised and demand-responsive shared vehicles. This can potentially serve as a convenient first mile/last mile transport mode within a residential town, and can pave the way for towns which are less oriented towards car-based mobility.
  • Automated road system: The collaboration will also aim to prepare technical and statutory requirements for the mass adoption of driverless vehicles in Singapore, and explore applications which can enhance traffic management.

8. “We recognise the enormous potential that AV technology has to offer towards improving Singapore’s land transport system. Through this research collaboration with A*STAR, we are able to create a technology platform for different stakeholders – such as regulators, researchers and industry players – to come together, collaborate, test and, ultimately, develop solutions to overcome the challenges and exploit the opportunities in the adoption of AV technology,” said Mr Chew Hock Yong, Chief Executive of LTA.

9. Dr. Raj. Thampuran, Managing Director of A*STAR said, “Technology has the power to make our transport system safer and more efficient. Together with LTA, A*STAR will bring innovative

AV testing on public roads

10. To support the R&D of AV technology, LTA will work towards a framework that will allow the testing of AVs that meet safety standards to be tested on our public road network over the next year. As a start, LTA and JTC Corporation (JTC) have identified one-north as the first public road network in Singapore for the testing of driverless vehicles. This will take effect from 1 January 2015.

11. JTC, as the master planner and developer of one-north[1], will provide test routes connecting Biopolis, Fusionopolis and Mediapolis. The test routes will comprise both light and heavy traffic routes. The network of roads will allow real traffic conditions to test the AV’s navigation controls. This initiative will be hosted under JTC’s Industrial Infrastructure Innovation (I3) Partnership Programme, which promotes innovation in JTC’s developments by partnering companies to carry out on-site test-bedding, showcasing and commercialisation of technologies and solutions.

12. “As the lead agency responsible for developing Singapore’s industrial infrastructure, JTC is constantly seeking ways to drive innovation in our developments. Estate connectivity is one key area of focus to enhance our estates and bring convenience to our customers. We are happy to host this test-bedding initiative in one-north and we hope it will pave the way for the future deployment of driverless vehicles on Singapore’s public roads,” said JTC CEO, Mr Png Cheong Boon.

13. The first phase of the trial will be for a year, and will be reviewed thereafter. LTA and JTC welcome interested parties in AV technology to step forward and conduct on-road testing of their AV applications.

14. To ensure the safety of all road users, LTA and JTC will review each test route to ensure that necessary safety measures are in place before the proposal is approved for actual testing. For example, companies testing their vehicles must have comprehensive safety procedures including immediate manual overwrite to take full control of the vehicle at any point in time. The participating companies would also need to ensure that the test vehicle has the necessary comprehensive third party insurance.

[1]one-north is a 200-ha development designed to host a cluster of world-class research facilities and business park space to support the growth of Biomedical Sciences, Infocomm Technology (ICT), Media, Physical Sciences and Engineering. Supported by strong science and engineering capabilities, one-north is slated to be a vibrant hotspot for research, innovation and test-bedding. The one-north master plan clusters the site into seven precincts which include Ayer Rajah, Biopolis, Fusionopolis, Mediapolis, Nepal Hill, Vista, and Wessex.