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SMART and NUS launch driverless vehicles trials at Chinese and Japanese Gardens until Nov 1

Zafirah Salim | Oct. 27, 2014
From Thursday to Saturday, the public can book a driverless buggy free of charge as part of a smart nation initiative at Jurong Lake District.

Engineers from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) have collaborated to develop two enhanced driverless buggies to ferry passengers for free around Chinese and Japanese Gardens from October 23 to November 1, 2014.

This driverless buggy trial is part of the Smart and Connected Jurong Lake District Pilots and Trials initiative, which was launched by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), in partnership with several government agencies.

Called DJ (Driverless Jockey) and BX (Buggy Xtreme), these two golf buggies feature vehicle-to-vehicle communications that will allow each vehicle to sense the location of the other vehicle. This enables the buggies to know if there is a possibility of overlapping paths, and for each buggy to intelligently determine how best to move so as to improve the overall efficiency of the fleet.

Fitted with about S$30,000 worth of technology and running on a speed of up to 10km/h, DJ and BX will roam the footpaths of the gardens from 8am to 2pm from Thursdays to Saturdays, ferrying up to three passengers per trip. Keen riders simply have to book the buggies online via during the operational hours.

In a joint media statement by SMART, NUS and IDA, the SMART-NUS team said that it aims to fulfill 100 trips within this trial period. According to a separate Channel NewsAsia report dated October 25, this target has been met as more than 110 trips have been taken since its launch.

Following the end of the trial, SMART and NUS will consolidate public's feedback to improve the driverless mobility experience. Before and after each ride, passengers have to complete a short online survey on the onboard computer.

LTA and its partners will use the trial results to better understand the potential opportunities and challenges that autonomous vehicles technology has for Singapore, and how it can be shaped to suit our needs. The trial also aims to generate awareness of AVs, as well as to help refine the comfort and other aspects of the vehicle based on public feedback.

"Operationally, these autonomous buggies will be closely monitored by the team throughout the whole deployment. Our researchers will shadow the movements of the buggies on electric bicycles. This is to provide an additional level of safety as well as to provide passengers with further elaboration on our research work should any queries arise," said Dr James Fu, SMART Project Lead.

"This public deployment is very useful to our continued research work as we will not only be gaining invaluable feedback from the public but to also further identify any other limitations of our system through the prolonged deployment," he added. 


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