- Singapore is opening as many as 620 miles of public roads so that companies can conduct tests with autonomous vehicles.
- The country’s transport minister announced that the change will be carried out gradually over the next few years in an incremental manner, and also said that public safety remains a top priority.
- Safety drivers must also be on board “at all times” during the autonomous vehicle trials.
The entire western part of Singapore is set to become a testing ground for autonomous vehicles (AVs), with over 620 miles of public roads opening up for companies to conduct tests, the country’s transport minister announced on Thursday.
The change will be carried out gradually over the next few years in an incremental manner, and public safety remains a top priority, Dr. Janil Puthucheary said.
Speaking at the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress, the minister said that they’re expanding the testbed area in response to industry feedback that a more varied testing environment would accelerate development and open up “new challenging scenarios for AV developers.”
He also warned that public acceptance is a key factor for the widespread adoption of autonomous mobility and can be “easily eroded” if accidents were to occur.
To achieve trust, both industry and authorities must continue to work closely together to find a safety regime that “strikes the balance between innovation and safety,” Dr Puthucheary said.
Safety drivers must also be on board “at all times” during autonomous vehicle trials, and all tests are subject to the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) approval, he added.
The testbed pilot programme was initially unveiled in 2017 with the aim of providing first-last mile commutes for residents across Singapore.
Besides expanding testbeds, Dr. Puthucheary said that the government will be supporting the setup of “open innovation platforms,” which enables companies and local institutes to co-create mobility solutions.
“These improvements are an important part of our strategy and roadmap to promulgate AV deployment in Singapore”, the Minister said.
The trials and efforts to date and in the future will continue to “give us even more insights into the concepts of operations for the deployment of AVs at the town-level as well as the infrastructural requirements for such town-scale deployments,” he added.