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Opening Address by Minister Khaw Boon Wan at CETRAN Autonomous Vehicle Test Centre

22 Nov 2017 Speeches

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

1.     At this year's National Day Rally, Prime Minister spoke about the need to harness technology to improve our quality of life and to make our economy more competitive.  One such technology is autonomous vehicles (AV).  AV technology will transform urban mobility, how we move about in the city.  It is especially promising for Singapore because it can help alleviate the tight land and manpower limits that currently constrain our land transport system.  Just as our water needs help to catalyse our water industry, our land transport constraints may help us become a global player in urban mobility solutions.  What works here is likely to also work in other cities.

2.     AV technology is developing rapidly and Singapore is at the forefront of this development.  There are now at least 10 companies, both local and foreign, doing trials in Singapore and we expect more to do so.  We are also one of the first countries to be trialing AV buses and AV utility vehicles.  Some industry players believe that we will achieve level 5 automation in 10 years - in other words, an AV that can drive itself through speedy highways and busy city streets without any form of human intervention.

Launch of CETRAN AV Test Centre

3.     The biggest challenge for AV is not the development of the technology, but how we can safely incorporate it into our living environment, through appropriate regulations and town planning.  Work on both are currently very preliminary.  Every country looking at AV is grappling with these issues.  What is our approach in Singapore?

4.     First, LTA, JTC and NTU set up the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of AVs (CETRAN) in August 2016 to develop testing requirements and standards.  We aim to develop a progressive set of scenarios which AV developers will need to master before they can be safely deployed in more complex environments. The CETRAN AV Test Centre, which we are launching today, enables us to translate these scenarios into tests.

5.     The test centre will provide a safe, controlled and configurable testing environment for developers to trial their technologies using a range of simulated on-road scenarios, with advanced test equipment such as pedestrian simulators. These scenarios could include aggressive driving and interactions with other road users, including cyclists and users of Personal Mobility Devices.

6.     Besides pedestrian simulators, the CETRAN AV Test Centre will also feature a rain simulator to facilitate the development of AVs that can navigate effectively in low-visibility, rainfall conditions. This is relevant not only in Singapore but also other cities around the world where heavy downpours are not uncommon.  At the back-end, LTA's OLIVE system will be used to monitor the performance of the test vehicles in real-time.

7.     I am pleased to note that ST Kinetics and NTU ERI@N have plans to commence their autonomous bus trials at the CETRAN AV Test Centre next year.

Pilot Deployment of AVs in Upcoming Development Areas

8.     Second, to facilitate the deployment of AV services, three new towns in Punggol, Tengah and the Jurong Innovation District (JID) will be planned with AV-friendly features.  From 2022, when AV technology is ready for large scale deployment, LTA will be piloting the deployment of autonomous buses during off-peak periods and autonomous shuttles to provide first-last mile connection for residents and workers in these districts.  We expect that the AVs will greatly enhance the accessibility and connectivity of our public transport system, particularly for the elderly, families with young children, and the less mobile.  More importantly, we can gain further insights into how we can develop new towns or refurbish existing ones for the safe mass deployments of AVs.

9.     As a first step, we are launching a Request for Information (RFI) today to seek inputs from industry and research institutions on the key requirements and enablers needed for the successful pilot deployment of AVs in Punggol, Tengah and JID. The RFI will be open until 31 May 2018. Taking in the inputs received, we will subsequently invite industry players to submit more comprehensive proposals for the implementation of this pilot deployment.

Conclusion

10.    The launch of the CETRAN Test Centre and the RFI for the pilot AV deployment in Punggol, Tengah and JID are major milestones in the development of our future public transport system.  We will continue to work closely with our partners from the public and private sectors, local universities and research institutions to advance the development and deployment of AVs in our transport system.

11.    On this note, I declare the CETRAN AV Test Centre open.