Singapore’s affluent, tech-savvy population is one factor making it suitable for the driverless pilot. Source: Pixabay
The pioneering Delphi Automotive is planning to launch six self-driving cars in Singapore next year to move goods and passengers around a business park and roll out a full service within four years.
Delphi is due to operate the electric cars with self-driving software along three routes.
The British-based manufacturer said the electric, self-driving vehicles would be available for rides-on-demand on a 6km route at One-North, a business park in Singapore’s south. They were due to travel at around 40kph on three routes to metro stations. Delphi will also develop a cloud-based software platform to run the service.
Singapore is seen as a near ideal location to try out “automated mobility on-demand” with its dense population of 5.4 million in an area double the size of Detroit. Its affluence, advanced infrastructure and hot, equatorial climate also make it attractive for the pilot.
Delphi said the scheme would allow Singapore to test the feasibility and popularity of paying autonomous vehicles.
Singaporeans already frequently take taxis and use them to reach metro stations.
“It allows us to demonstrate we have the complete ecosystem of knowledge and capability in the vehicle,” said Glen De Vos of Delphi. “You have to get the technology to work first, but you also have to implement it in a way that the end consumer feels comfortable and actually excited about using.”
The cars will initially have “safety drivers” who can take over in emergencies but De Vos said by 2019 the cars would have no pedals or steering wheel and that customers could use an app to take them beyond the normal route.
Delphi will probably start the service with Audi SQ5s, adapted in Michigan, California and Europe, although the Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S seem like the most likely vehicles for the finished project.
De Vos said Delphi’s vehicles could pick up milk or shirts from a dry cleaners, before picking up passengers.
“You’re not talking just about a mobility or transportation service, you’re talking about getting other stuff done,” De Vos said. “Those services can be offered very cost-effectively and very quickly … the combinations and types of services we think will be available are countless.”
As the cost per trip goes down, the technology will enable the exploration of a range of services along with the benefits of ending most of the more than one million global road deaths that happen annually.
Delphi said testing would last three years, with operational services set for 2022.