Singapore’s first driver-less car had its first traffic accident

Singapore’s first driver-less car had its first traffic accident

World’s first self-driving taxis that started in Singapore on 25 August, has had its first accident on 18 October.

A netizen, Michael Chong Kwan Chew posted a photo, that he took after the accident, on the page of Singapore Taxi Driver Facebook.

A driver-less taxi operated by nuTonomy was shown on the photo to have collided with a lorry although the detail of the accident is not clearly revealed.

photo: Singapore Taxi Driver Facebook
photo: Singapore Taxi Driver Facebook

Mr Chong commented that he was not sure who’s wrong but it seems that the driverless car took the lane of the lorry. The right bumper of the taxi was damaged and the side of the lorry was dented.

michaelchong-comment

This incident happened while the self-driving taxi is undergoing its trial-program which is less than two-months old.

Since August 2016, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has designated one-north as the first Autonomous Vehicle (AV) test-bed in Singapore, where interested applicants can test out their vehicles’ navigation control on public roads.

The self-driving taxi trial-program is the start of the Government’s vision of a car-lite future, where existing public transport will be complemented by a new system of shared mobility-on-demand services powered by fleets of self-driving vehicles (SDVs).

To a parliamentary questions asked by Dr Lim Wee Kiak on July this year, about plans to incorporate a wider use of automated vehicle systems into our transport system, the Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan replied that the ministry is planning for fleets of self-driving pods to provide on-demand, point-to-point mobility services for first-and-last-mile travel in the neighbourhood, and will be trialing them in Sentosa and One-North for a start.

The government vision for the automated vehicles is not a recent plan. In June 2013 the Straits Times reported that Mr Khaw Boon Wan had stated, driver-less cars will soon become the reality in cities, and possibly as soon as in the next 10 years, as posted in Straits Times Facebook.

To this, a commenter, L Hua Sheng, wrote: “I am glad that the Government is looking forward with regards with concepts of autonomous vehicles. However having worked on smart transportation systems, I regret to say that in my humble opinion, Singapore do not have the technological infrastructure to support a fully autonomous driver’s network in the near future.

Although we have adopted smart transportation system, the system does not encompass our transport network fully and there is still room for improvements. There is still much technology needed in the areas of data collection, inter-vehicular communication, data analysis and reliability of networks.

Given all these concerns, I would say that 10 years is an unrealistic estimate.
Nonetheless as a strong proponent of ITS, I am really happy if the Minister could do all in his power to accelerate developments these areas.”

Another netizen, Steve Boyce, commented: “Driverless cars may be developed in ten years but viability will be further off.

First there must be enough on the roads to warrant rolling out the infrastructure to support them – road side trackers etc as I doubt GPS alone will be sufficient.

Then it will still be some time before the current stock of cars will have been changed over. There are too many and costs of the new vehicles must be competitive for people to buy them – look at electric cars – the type available are expensive and don’t have the format to suit most families.”

But a study revealed that the self-driving car, that’s supposed to lead to a world without accidents, is achieving the exact opposite right now. The vehicles have plagued a crash rate double that of those with human drivers.

Bloomberg reported on December 2015, the driverless car’s accident rates are twice as high as for regular cars, according to a study by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The study found driverless vehicles have never been at fault, they’re usually hit from behind in slow-speed crashes by inattentive or aggressive humans unaccustomed to machine motorists which always follow the rules and proceed with caution.

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