NTU stu­dents can soon hop on driver­less shut­tle bus across cam­pus

The New Paper - - NEWS -

In a few months, rush­ing to class could mean hop­ping on a driver­less shut­tle bus for Nanyang Tech­no­log­i­cal Uni­ver­sity (NTU) stu­dents.

The ve­hi­cle, which can travel at speeds of up to 40kmh, will carry 24 riders on a 500m route con­nect­ing stu­dent halls with the main aca­demic ar­eas.

Fer­ry­ing up to 300 pas­sen­gers a day, it will en­counter ob­sta­cles such as pedes­tri­ans and traf­fic, all vi­tal in­put for the ma­chine to learn how to get around in the real world.

Yes­ter­day, NTU signed an agree­ment with Dutch com­pany 2get­there and SMRT Ser­vices – the trans­port op­er­a­tor’s op­er­a­tions and main­te­nance arm – to in­tro­duce the buses to NTU’s cam­pus.

In April 2016, SMRT formed a joint ven­ture with 2get­there to bring driver­less ve­hi­cle sys­tems to Sin­ga­pore and the re­gion, ac­quir­ing a 20 per cent stake – worth $6 mil­lion – in the Dutch com­pany later that year.

Since Novem­ber last year, the bus has been tested along a 350m route be­tween two stu­dent halls on the NTU cam­pus, safely car­ry­ing about 4,000 pas­sen­gers in to­tal.

There are plans ahead for it to even­tu­ally tra­verse the en­tire cam­pus and be­yond – con­nect­ing NTU to neigh­bour­ing CleanTech Park.

To help it “see” its way around, the bus is equipped with cam­eras as well as lidar (light de­tec­tion and rang­ing) and ul­tra­sound sen­sors.

Small mag­nets em­bed­ded in the road act as nav­i­ga­tion guides.

The ve­hi­cle can get through heavy rain and knows to avoid pedes­tri­ans, said 2get­there chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer Sjo­erd van der Zwaan.

The au­tonomous ve­hi­cle will also be in­te­grated into Jalan-Jalan, an app that in­te­grates var­i­ous trans­port modes such as e-scoot­ers and shut­tle buses on cam­pus.

The app – de­vel­oped by start-up mo­bil­i­tyX – is be­ing tested at the NTU cam­pus and CleanTech Park.

– ZHAKI AB­DUL­LAH

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