While most of the world is enamored with drivelerss cars, the Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA) will join Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to start field tests of driverless buses instead, to test the feasible application of driverless public mass transit.
Under the agreement signed with NTU’s Energy Research Institute, the LTA will trial 2 buses in Jurong West, ferrying passengers between NTU and CleanTech Park. The route is only about 1 km long and has been used to test smaller autonomous electric shuttles. The new tests will involve 12-meter long electric hybrid buses, similar in size to those currently used as mass transit; these buses can about 80 passengers.
There is also the possibility of the trial route being extended as far as Pioneer MRT station, about 2 km away. The buses will recharge at a bus stop or depot. The cities of Sejong and Kumi in Korea have been running OLEV (On-line Electric Vehicle) buses, developed by KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology), which uses inductive charging i.e. can be charged on the move or when stationary. These buses can be fully charged in 30 minutes and get a distance of 40 km on a charge. Perhaps this is a more practical application to keep electric buses on the road with minimal downtime.
Driverless buses have also been tested in France, Australia, the UAE, China and USA.