Sin­ga­pore un­veils self-driv­ing scooter

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

Re­searchers in Sin­ga­pore have come up with a so­lu­tion to curb ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing phone-ob­sessed walk­ers, a self-driv­ing mo­bil­ity scooter that drives sin­gle pedes­tri­ans along foot­paths.

The one-seater, four wheel, 50 kg (110 lbs) ve­hi­cle trav­els at a top speed of 6 kmh (4 mph) and has laser sen­sors to help nav­i­gate around ob­sta­cles. The scooter, de­vel­oped by the Na­tional Univer­sity of Sin­ga­pore (NUS), is the citys­tate’s lat­est ex­per­i­ment with driver­less ve­hi­cles as it pushes ahead with its vi­sion of us­ing au­tonomous tech­nol­ogy to help deal with the chal­lenges of its lim­ited land and labour.

The scooter has un­der­gone suc­cess­ful tests on cam­pus and de­vel­op­ers said it can help im­prove mo­bil­ity for all ages, cut down on the need for cars and also lower ac­ci­dent rates.

“I’m sure you have ex­pe­ri­enced peo­ple who just use their hand­phone while walk­ing, and al­most run into you ... so it would be nice if you are just sit­ting down and check­ing your emails,” said NUS As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor and project leader Marcelo Ang Jr. “We just give you more choices.”

Ang Jr said that the scooter would be able to work in tan­dem with other driver­less ve­hi­cles in Sin­ga­pore, where robo-taxis are be­ing tested and tri­als are planned for self-driv­ing buses. He said the scooter was meant for use on nar­row path­ways which larger ve­hi­cles can­not ac­cess.

Cur­rently the scooter takes a few sec­onds to cal­i­brate a dif­fer­ent route when it nears an ob­sta­cle - some­thing Ang Jr. said the team was look­ing to im­prove. Users, though, did not seem too both­ered by the brief pause. “It goes re­ally smoothly and trav­els very safely,” said stu­dent Kevin Xiangyu Hui, who tested the scooter. The project, a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (MIT), Sin­ga­pore-MIT Al­liance for Re­search and Tech­nol­ogy (SMART), and NUS will be fur­ther tested and is not for sale. — Reuters

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