On 23 June, NUS Kent Ridge Campus became part of the expanded zone for the Autonomous Vehicle (AV) trials by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). An AV developed by Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) and NUS will be participating in the trial. NUS Engineering Associate Professor Marcelo Ang is the Singapore Principal Investigator at SMART.
The initial AV trials began in September 2015 within one-north, where participants demonstrated their ability to manoeuvre in mixed traffic environments. The trial now covers neighbouring areas such as Science Parks 1 and 2, Dover as well as Buona Vista, in addition to NUS. The enlarged zone, which has added 55km to the existing trial routes, will provide more on-road scenarios to facilitate technology development.
Professor Yong Kwet Yew, Vice President, NUS University Campus Infrastructure, said, “NUS is committed to drive innovation and technology. The expanded AV test into the NUS campus will provide a wider range of road scenarios and conditions for researchers. In addition, they can leverage on the University’s infrastructural support and resources such as the wireless MESH traffic network connectivity for a safe and realistic trial environment.” AVs will eventually complement transportation on campus, he added.
The SMART-NUS AV has been tested on roads in one-north and that trial is still ongoing, said Assoc Prof Ang, who is also Director of the Advanced Robotics Centre at NUS.
Like the other eight AVs in the trial, the SMART-NUS AV has undergone a thorough vehicle safety assessment in line with LTA’s stringent criteria, and includes proximity sensors, Light Detection and Ranging technology, machine vision as well as two-way wireless communications capability. Furthermore, it will sport R&D license plates and decals to facilitate identification. For added protection, a qualified safety driver who is a trained NUS student or SMART researcher would be seated in the AV at all times to take control of the vehicle if necessary.
The nine AVs will ply the roads within the test site 24 hours daily. Details are still being worked out, but members of the NUS community who wish to experience riding in an AV may be able to sign up to be a passenger on the SMART-NUS AV when it is being tested.
“We hope to realise mobility on demand using autonomous vehicles for the NUS community first, and then to the rest of Singapore,” said Assoc Prof Ang. The next step for the NUS AV research team is to improve the performance of the AVs in dealing with more complex traffic situations, he shared.
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