Driverless taxi trial set to launch in Singapore

A UK-based connected car technology developer will lead one of the world’s first trials of driverless taxi fleets, scheduled to take place in Singapore next year.

The project is a joint venture between Kent-based Delphi Automotive and the Singapore Land Transit Authority (LTA). The two companies believe the on-demand autonomous taxis could significantly reduce the cost of operations compared to human-driven cars.

According to Delphi vice president of engineering Glen DeVos, a cab ride in a dense urban area can cost $3-4 per mile. The firm believes driverless technology could help reduce this cost to 90 cents a mile. Such a saving would quickly balance out the initial investment.

“We are honoured to partner with the Singapore LTA on advancing innovative mobility systems, which will put Singapore at the forefront of autonomous vehicle adoption,” said Kevin Clark, Delphi’s president and chief executive officer. “This is a great recognition of Delphi’s leadership in advanced safety technologies, automated software and systems integration, as well as our ability to drive these mobility solutions forward for our customers.”

Delphi will use a fleet of Audi vehicles equipped with automated driving and mapping systems and develop a cloud-based mobility software suite for managing the fleet.

Drivers will be present in the cars during the trials, poised to take over if the autonomous system experiences problems. By 2019 or 2020, Delphi anticipates that the drivers can be removed completely. By 2022, the Singapore Land Transit Authority hopes the driverless fleet will become a regular part of Singapore’s transport system.

The trials will take place at Singapore’s Autonomous Vehicle Test Bed at a business park in the western area of the city.

The project is part of Singapore’s Autonomous Vehicle Initiative, launched in 2014. Singapore hopes that driverless technology can help reduce the congestion in the city and help commuters tackle the first mile and last mile problem.

The authorities hope that commuters, being offered a convenient solution to transport themselves from their homes to public transport hubs, will be more inspired to use public transport options instead of their personal vehicles.

Delphi hopes to run similar trials in North America and Europe.

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