A self-driving shuttle bus will hit the road at NUS from March next year – here’s what you need to know

The autonomous shuttle bus named EasyMile EZ10 will be tested out in the National University of Singapore campus from March next year.
EasyMile

It’s not just automated flying taxis that will hit town next year. Singapore’s universities are getting their own transport upgrades as well.

ComfortDelGro announced on Nov 12 that it will test out a self-driving shuttle bus service in the National University of Singapore (NUS) Kent Ridge campus. The year-long trial will commence in March 2019.

The shuttle bus will operate in “real traffic conditions” – alongside cars, motorcycles and other vehicles on the road.

Earlier this year, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) also announced plans for a similar shuttle service at the end of 2018.

While NTU’s bus can ferry up to 24 passengers at a time, NUS’ EasyMile EZ10 shuttle bus can fit a total of 15 passengers, and will run along a 1.6km route between Heng Mui Keng Terrace and Business Link.

It will be operated by ComfortDelGro Bus, and is funded by automotive distributor Inchcape Singapore.

In the initial stage of the trial, the shuttle will not ferry any passengers but focus on collecting data for its mapping and navigation systems. Passengers will only be able to board the vehicle once the trial management team is satisfied with its performance, said ComfortDelGro in a statement.

EasyMile

Also, it will not yet operate independently. ComfortDelGro said that during the trial, a safety engineer will be on board to ensure safe operation of the vehicle, and to provide engineering expertise.

The EasyMile EZ10 is powered solely on electricity and has autonomous vehicle (AV) technology that combines robotics and artificial intelligence.

It relies on its own internal software and hardware technologies. This means that it can navigate the roads by itself without the need to build additional external infrastructure.

The same bus has already been deployed in the roads of France, Germany, Norway, Australia, Japan and California.

“NUS is excited to serve as a living lab for this trial, where our researchers, and later on, the NUS community, can play a major role in evaluating the use of autonomous shuttles,” Professor Chen Tsuhan, NUS deputy president of research and technology, said.

“This is also in line with the university’s goal of becoming a smart, safe and sustainable campus,” he said.

ComfortDelGro managing director and group CEO, Yang Ban Seng, said insight gained from the trials will help the company “gain greater insight into how to become an AV fleet operator in the years to come”.

If the trial is successful, similar services could be rolled out commercially, the company added.