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NUS launches autonomous shuttle service within its campus

Image Credit: news.nus.edu.sg/NUS

National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Kent Ridge campus has a new gadget touring its campus. The fully autonomous NUSmart Shuttle has started carrying its first passengers as of yesterday.

This EasyMile EZ10 autonomous vehicle is electrically powered and can transport about 12 people at a time.

It is the most widely used autonomous shuttle in the world, with more than 230 of these shuttles used in more than 26 countries.

This is a trial programme which is part of a year-long study aimed at studying the safety and capability of autonomous shuttle buses being deployed onto roads with regular traffic.

The shuttle has a full range of sensors installed in it, giving it the ability to detect and avoid any oncoming obstacles. The shuttle employs its internal systems and hardware technologies to autonomously drive on the roads, without relying on any external infrastructure.

In this initial phase of the trial, the shuttle is to be in service on Mondays to Fridays at 20-minute intervals between 10.20am and 11.20am as well as between 2.20pm and 3.20pm. The operating hours of the shuttle will be increased along with each phase of the trial.

The service is free for all commuters. During wet weather, the shuttle will not operate.  This is to allow the shuttle to make fine adjustments to its internal system and processes.

The NUSmart shuttle is wheelchair-friendly and comes with an in-built access ramp to meet the convenience of wheelchair-bound and the needs of commuters.

There will be a Safety Operator onboard the shuttle while it is in use, ensuring that there is no comprise of safety and to address any questions of the passengers on-board.

This is the first autonomous shuttle bus which will be travelling alongside regular traffic, such as buses, cars and motorcycles, all while being operated by a land transport operator.

The launch of this shuttle service ties with NUS’s current efforts to build a smart, safe and sustainable campus.

NUS Senior Vice President (Campus Infrastructure) Professor Yong Kwet Yew said: “Autonomous vehicles have great potential as a promising mobility solution. NUS is pleased to host the autonomous shuttle trial on the Kent Ridge campus, which will involve our staff, students and visitors. The knowledge and experience gained from this trial will bring us closer to the day when autonomous vehicles become a common safe mode of transport, and with citizens who are comfortable with embracing new technologies, we can then further entrench Singapore’s standing as a smart nation.”

In an earlier OpenGov article, we reported that Singapore ranks second globally in Autonomous Vehicle Readiness report.

Singapore topped in the following criteria: policy and legislation and consumer acceptance.

On policy and legislation, it received the maximum score on regulation, with a 2017 amendment to its Road Traffic Act allowing self-driving vehicles to be tested on public roads, and a single entity to coordinate AV work, the Singapore Autonomous Vehicle Initiative announced in 2014.

In the area of consumer acceptance, consumer research suggests that Singaporeans are more open to autonomous technology than many other countries.

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