Self-Driving Cars Will Soon Be Tested On Public Roads In All Of Western Singapore

Image: TTNews

Picture this scenario:

You’re waiting at the side of the road when a car pulls up beside you. You think nothing of it, but then you see no one in the car – no driver, passenger, or crying baby in the back.

Scared out of your mind, you start grabbing people around you, asking them if they see any driver in the front seat. They say no, and so you start reciting prayers in several languages.

But then your phone blinks to life with the message: Your Grab ride has arrived. 

This may seem like a scene out of a science fiction movie, but it may happen in the next few years.

Self-Driving Cars Will Soon Be Tested On Public Roads In All Of Western Singapore

Public roads in the western part of Singapore will be used as a testing ground for autonomous vehicles (AVs) announced the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Thursday (Oct 24).

Simi is autonomous vehicles?

‘Autonomous vehicles’ is just a fancy way of saying self-driving or driverless cars.

Basically the car is like:

Image: Giphy

According to the LTA, more than 1,000km of public roads will be used for the trial, including areas like Bukit Timah, Clementi, Jurong, Woodlands, Bukit Merah, and Choa Chu Kang.

This expansion will allow organisations to progressively test these vehicles in a wider range of traffic scenarios and road conditions, LTA said.

Move to increase public acceptance 

Now, most people wouldn’t feel safe in a car without a driver. At least that’s the case at the moment. If the car gets into an accident, who’s to blame?

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This fear is one of the reasons LTA chose to expand its testbed for AVs. Currently, the largest testing site is in Buona Vista and only has about 70km of roads available for testing AVs.

Thus, this expansion will “support the robust testing of AVs’ capabilities to provide inter-town services and longer-haul journeys in a safe manner, and pave the way for the planned pilot deployment of AVs in the early 2020s”, LTA explained.

If you’re still not convinced, you’re forgetting that there already are driverless vehicles in Singapore.

Driverless buses and taxis

In August, Singapore’s first on-demand driverless shuttle bus was launched in Sentosa after a year of testing.

Residents and workers in Punggol, Tengah, and the Jurong Innovation District can also take self-driving buses and shuttles for their first-and last-commutes, under a pilot programme launched in 2017.

Moreover, nuTonomy, a self-driving car start-up, aims to launch the world’s first driverless taxi system in Singapore in a few years.

One of the main reasons we fear riding in AVs is because of our misconception that driverless vehicles will, as the name suggests, have no drivers.

Driverless vehicles will have a driver

However, according to LTA, all autonomous vehicles must continue to have a qualified safety driver at the wheel.

But… but then HOW IS IT DRIVERLESS?

Well, the driver doesn’t actually have to drive. A safety driver needs to be at the wheel to “take over immediate control of the vehicle should the need arise”.

This means that the driver can binge Netflix, clip his fingernails, or do this:

Image: Giphy

But if they see that the bus is about to hit someone or something, they can take over to prevent any accident.

All AVs will also have to display prominent decals and markings to ensure easy identification by pedestrians and other road users.

In addition, they have to go through a thorough safety assessment before they are approved for on-road trials.

So, if you’re worried about your safety when it comes to driverless vehicles, remember that these vehicles are thoroughly assessed by experts, and contrary to what its name suggests, these driverless vehicles aren’t that driver-less after all.