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Driving into the Future with Autonomous Buses

Look forward to an enhanced commuting experience with better and safer autonomous bus innovations equipped with niche AV technologies such as automotive cyber security, advanced autonomy and platform-agnostic AV kits.

If you live in a city, you’d generally agree that buses are the backbone of any public transportation system. Reaching far and wide into the nooks and crannies of suburbs and street corners, buses offer affordable and accessible transportation for all. In fact, the word “bus” came from the Latin word “omnibus” (for all).

The days when buses were pulled by horses or powered by steam are long over. Now, we are fast progressing from engine-powered buses to electric-powered buses, and autonomous/driverless buses. In fact, autonomous buses could become a common sight on our roads after 2022.

ST Engineering, in collaboration with the Sentosa Development Corporation and Singapore’s Ministry of Transport, is developing four Mobility-on-Demand-Vehicles (MODVs), two 15-seater shuttles and two 20-seater autonomous mini buses. These will be deployed on Sentosa Island for intra-island travel public trials by 2019. Visitors will be able to call for the MODV via an app on their smartphones or through information kiosks located across the island.

Public roads in Singapore will also, by 2020, see ST Engineering’s 40-seater autonomous buses plying it, offering on-trial feeder and trunk bus services for commuters, thanks to a co-development project with the Singapore Land Transport Authority.

Autonomous buses are meant to provide safe and enjoyable rides for the public. Hence, automated driving technologies used will be “humanised” and will be able to perform defensive yet assertive driving in a mixed traffic environment. For example, the use of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), sensors like light detection and ranging (LIDARs) and cameras, and the ability to integrate high definition mapping data all ensure the autonomous bus maintains its proper position in the lane and navigates safely in complex traffic scenarios.

For the autonomous bus to accurately make sense of its environment, data from multiple cameras, LIDARs, radars and ultrasonic sensors will be fused together and processed, to produce a 360-degree robust representation of static and dynamic objects under different weather conditions. Meanwhile sophisticated algorithms calculate free space and anticipates how the environment may change to enable smooth driving for a safe and enjoyable ride. These are all secured by technologies actively preventing any intrusions or threats that could impact driving. Remotely, a fleet manager can also actively monitor a fleet of autonomous buses using a robotics management system.

Commuters can also look forward to an enhanced commuting experience – the autonomous buses will be spacious, comfortable and entertaining. Visually attractive infotainment will keep passengers entertained and updated during the commute.

Autonomous bus innovations can only get better and safer. Since 2017, the Singapore Autonomous Vehicles Consortium led by ST Engineering has been hard at work in accelerating the application and adoption of AV technologies in Singapore. Its members comprise A*STAR’s Institute for Infocomm Research, the National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Engineering, the Singapore University of Technology & Design as well as Nanyang Technology University through the ST Engineering-NTU Corporate Lab.

Together, we are developing niche AV technologies such as automotive cyber security, advanced autonomy and platform-agnostic AV kits through a build-test-deploy spiral approach. This spiral developmental approach ensures that AV technologies are tested and demonstrated at different stages of development to reduce risk, enhance reliability and readiness for deployment.

With all these structures in place, commuters can look forward to an exciting future as autonomous buses soon take to the roads, creating a paradigm shift in productivity and resource optimisation, amongst other benefits. Contact us at comms@stengg.com to find out more about ST Engineering’s autonomous buses.

Autonomous 40-seater bus
Autonomous 22-seater mini-bus
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