We refer to the commentary by Mr Zack Lim Xue Li, Executive Director and Chief Technology Officer of Trinax Singapore (‘Check autonomous vehicle driving tests for blind spots’, 30 October 2018).
Autonomous vehicle (AV) technology has the potential to alleviate our land and manpower constraints. Since 2015, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has been facilitating AV trials to understand how AV technology can be deployed to improve our transport system in future.
First, to ensure the safety of all road users, trials that take place in Singapore must fulfil stringent requirements. Before being allowed into designated trial areas such as one-north, the AV must pass a rigorous safety assessment jointly administered by LTA and the Traffic Police. The AV must demonstrate the ability to handle basic manoeuvres and stop safely upon the detection of an obstacle. This safety assessment is conducted in an enclosed circuit and protected environment at the Centre of Excellence for Testing & Research of AVs-NTU (CETRAN), located in Jurong Innovation District. AVs are also fitted with a ‘black-box’ data recorder, which stores video footages and collects key data. Prior to on-road trials, it is mandatory for the developer to obtain insurance coverage against third party liability and property damage.
Second, AVs can only progress beyond designated trial areas to more complex environments when they demonstrate a higher level of competency through additional stringent tests. LTA monitors the activities of AVs operated on public roads real-time through our Autonomous Vehicle Monitoring and Evaluation System.
Third, all AVs are required to have a safety driver on board at all times. The safety driver is trained to take immediate control of the vehicle, in accordance to strict operational protocol. AVs must also have a vehicle fault alert system that will alert the safety driver of any faults, and cede control of the AV to the safety driver on board.
Public safety is always the top priority when conducting trials. The Ministry of Transport has amended the Road Traffic Act so that LTA is empowered to create and amend rules related to AVs, to safeguard public safety.
Lam Wee Shann
Group Director, Technology & Industry Development
Land Transport Authority