ST Engineering announced several initiatives to advance Singapore’s Smart Mobility 2030 vision of a smart transportation network and strengthen its leadership in the development of autonomous vehicle (AV) technologies. The announcement was made during a ceremony officiated by Mr Pang Kin Keong, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Transport and Chairman of the Committee on Autonomous Road Transport for Singapore (CARTS).
Leading industry collaboration to drive breakthroughs in AV
Building on the Group’s deep experience in robotics and autonomous solutions, ST Engineering today launched the Singapore Autonomous Vehicles Consortium to facilitate and strengthen collaboration between industry partners and institutes of higher learning (IHL) to develop AV standards as well as accelerate the application and adoption of AV technologies in Singapore. These efforts will support the development of testing requirements for AVs undertaken by the Centre of Excellence for Testing & Research of AVs – NTU (CETRAN). Led by its land systems arm ST Kinetics, the consortium includes A*STAR’s Institute for Infocomm Research (I²R), National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Faculty of Engineering, Singapore University of Technology & Design (SUTD), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) through the ST Engineering-NTU Corporate Lab and Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT).
The Consortium will focus on two core areas based on their respective domain expertise: to identify protocols and standards for the adoption of AVs in real-world scenarios; and to develop 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.
Creating AV solutions for public transport
ST Kinetics also announced that it will conduct AV trials in partnership with Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA). The autonomous buses, powered by ST Kinetics’ AV technology and integrated with various diagnostics, cybersecurity and localisation technologies from its consortium partners, will navigate Singapore’s urban mixed traffic conditions, as well as operate under normal and adverse weather conditions. The 40-seater autonomous buses, measuring 12 metres long with maximum speeds of 60km/h, will be developed over 42 months in three phases. In 2020, the buses will be validated on fixed and scheduled routes based on selected feeder and trunk bus services, offering enhanced mobility options for commuters. ST Kinetics’ autonomous buses will be one of the first in Singapore to operate on public roads.
The company also announced the development of four Mobility-on-Demand-Vehicles (MODV), and will be working together with Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) and the Ministry of Transport (MOT) to deploy them for trials in Sentosa. This follows the completion of a front-end engineering study, which started in July 2016, on technical requirements such as the feasibility of routes for autonomous vehicles to navigate seamlessly around Sentosa.
In early 2019, the four MODV, each with seating capacities ranging from 15 to 20 passengers, will be deployed in a pilot public trial to provide autonomous mobility-on-demand service to visitors to serve their intra-island travel needs in Sentosa. A key feature of the trials is a platform agnostic fleet management system, developed by ST Kinetics’ team of software engineers that analyses passenger demand planning and optimises route management in such ride sharing services. Visitors will be able to call for the MODV via their smartphones or information kiosks located across the island. Another indigenous development is in the field of artificial intelligence, based on deep learning algorithm, will enable the MODV to learn and emulate the behaviour of an expert human driver.
Permanent Secretary for Transport and CARTS Chairman Mr Pang Kin Keong said, “The autonomous mobility-on-demand trial in Sentosa and the autonomous bus trial with ST Kinetics are further major steps in our plan to leverage the technology to improve urban mobility in Singapore. We will progressively launch more trials, including in other parts of Singapore, with the aim of eventually deploying such mobility concepts as part and parcel of our transport system. I am also pleased to see the formation of the Singapore Autonomous Vehicles Consortium. It will be another significant piece of the eco-system which we are building to grow the AV industry in Singapore.”
Mr Chin Sak Hin, Assistant Chief Executive, Sentosa Development Corporation said, “We are pleased to partner MOT and ST Kinetics in the launch of the very first autonomous mobility-on-demand-vehicles on Sentosa. This initiative is in line with our vision of developing a sustainable and smart Sentosa. It augments our collaboration with various partners to enhance guest experience through innovative technologies, which include outdoor WiFi and smart street lighting. The on-demand capabilities of the autonomous vehicles will help provide a seamless journey for all our guests to be able to truly enjoy the exciting offerings at Sentosa.”
Dr Lee Shiang Long, President of ST Kinetics said, “We are honoured to be given the opportunities to shape Singapore’s urban mobility solutions. This will open up the horizon of our team of engineers, for them to participate in a new and growth segment with a technology that is still going through various phases of development. Working with our IHLs also creates tremendous opportunities for us to translate research findings into commercial products that will benefit the wider populace.”
The development of these AV technologies will draw from ST Kinetics’ engineering expertise in developing military robotics and systems integration capabilities using existing vehicle platforms, sensors and computers to effectively deploy autonomous, commuter-friendly, mass transport modes for intra-town and first-last mile travel.
“ST Engineering has more than a decade of demonstrable expertise in robotics and autonomous solutions that serve a variety of air, land, sea and underwater applications. Today, we take another step forward leveraging our domain expertise and engineering capabilities to develop solutions that would transform urban transportation connectivity,” said Mr Vincent Chong, President & CEO of ST Engineering. “We will continue to lead and catalyse the AV ecosystems in Singapore, accelerating the adoption of AV standards and AV technologies that support the country’s future mobility concepts.”
In the last few years, ST Engineering has been stepping up its investments and development efforts in robotics and autonomous capabilities. In 2015, the Group launched the ST Engineering-NTU Corporate Lab to develop, among others, collaborative technologies in the areas of command and control, machine learning and artificial intelligence to enable multiple heterogeneous robots to work together to complete complex tasks. In the same year, it put on trial an Autonomous People Mover, called the Auto Rider, at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, providing on-demand shuttle service for visitors. In 2016, the Auto Rider became Asia’s first fully operational AV.