Driverless car / photo:

Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Janil Puthucheary has stated that the government is mindful that Autonomous Vehicle (AV) technology is evolving rapidly and will review the measures regularly and enhance them if necessary.

He was responding to questions filed by MP for Tanjong Pagar Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye, who asked the Minister for Transport (MOT) how many self-driving vehicles are currently being test-driven on our public roads and what safety measures are in place to ensure the safety of pedestrians.

Responding to this in an oral reply on 11 July, the minister stated that fourteen AVs are currently authorised to conduct trials on roads in the one-north, National University of Singapore (NUS), and Singapore Science Park 1 and 2 areas.

Dr Janil then stressed that to ensure the safety of all road users, the trials must fulfil stringent requirements.

He said that first, the vehicle must pass a safety assessment to demonstrate that it can adequately handle basic manoeuvers and come to a safe stop upon the detection of an obstacle.

Second, initial AV trials will only be conducted on lightly used roads, such as those in the one-north district. Further trials in more complex environments will only be allowed when the AVs are able to demonstrate a higher level of competency.

Third, all AVs being trialled must be accompanied by a safety driver who is trained to immediately take over full control of the AV when required.  In addition, all AVs must have a vehicle fault alert system that will alert the safety driver of any faults, and allow the control of the vehicle to be immediately transferred to the safety driver.

He noted that Land Transport Authority ( LTA) will only waive the requirement for a safety driver after AV developers have convincingly proven the competency, reliability and safety of their technology.

He also said that the authority also requires the AVs to be fitted with a ‘black-box’ data recorder, which stores video footages and collects key data, and to have the required insurance coverage against third party liability and property damage before the AVs are allowed to trial on public roads.

Since August 2016, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has designated one-north as the first 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).

However, the very vehicle experienced an accident in less than two months after its first launch, on 18 October 2016.

A netizen had taken a picture of the driver-less taxi operated by nuTonomy, which collided with a lorry although the detail of the accident is not clearly understood.

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