A driverless car developed by the SMART-NUS research initiative

Singapore to solve skills shortage with driverless transportation

Singapore has unveiled its ambitious autonomous transportation plans hoping that driverless vehicles will help the city-state solve the shortage of skilled drivers. 

The first two driverless cars developed by the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) in cooperation with the National University of Singapore and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research have been revealed to the public on Monday, marking the beginning of Singapore’s ambitious driverless future.

One of the driverless cars, a modified Mitsubishi electric vehicle, has been seen driving around Singapore’s technology and innovation park at about 30 km/h.

Singapore’s visions of autonomous public transportation expect cars travelling throughout the city in trains following a single driver, overcoming not only the shortage of drivers in the city but also inspiring residents to switch from privately owned to shared vehicles.

"Trying to look for bus drivers, truck drivers - big challenge for us," said Pang Kin Keong, permanent secretary in the ministry of transport.

"We don't have a huge population and these are not some of the professions which Singaporeans aspire to."

Also on Monday, the Singaporean government together with the local port authority issued a call for proposals to design and implement autonomous truck platooning trials, in which a human-driven truck would be followed by other driverless trucks.

Earlier this year, the Singaporean government said it was seeking ideas on how autonomous vehicle technology could be harnessed for more land transport options.

Singapore's Land Transport Authority said it had received proposals from eight applicants, including Uber, BMW and Toyota.

Some analysts believe driverless cars will encourage car-sharing in the future and lead to the decrease of personally-owned vehicles and thus to the reduction of congestion and traffic jams.

Google is leading the driverless cars research in the USA and hoping to have the technology market-ready by 2020.


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