Singapore promised driverless taxis by 2017

Smaller 2getthere driverless pods at work in Abu Dhabi. Source: YouTube

Driverless pods providing seamless door-to-door connectivity should be available in Singapore by the end of the year.

The joint venture between SMRT Services and the Dutch firm 2getthere have formed 2getthere Asia to market, install, operate and maintain automated vehicles for customers in Singapore before spreading across the Asia-Pacific region.

The firms said their aim was to commercialise their rapid transit system in Singapore before 2017.

They said they were planning to build 24-passenger vehicles to run commercially by the end of 2016.

The pods, which run on electricity, are able to travel autonomously on small roads and within gated communities or school campuses.

A feasibility study was conducted on a Singapore campus, said 2getthere’s founder Carel van Helsdingen, adding that: “The first step is the feasibility study, the next step is the trial, which is the proof of the pudding and then the full implementation.”

The vehicles, like a driverless minibus, can theoretically travel at 40kmh and carry up to 24 passengers, moving up to 8,000 passengers per hour.

SMRT Services managing director Colin Lim said: “We can see these systems being applied in closed environments like campuses, hospitals and business parks. This would provide your high quality first and last mile connectivity, for example, a commuter could stop at an MRT station, get onto one of these vehicles and go to different parts of his work environment.”

Smaller 2getthere vehicles that seat four were developed in Abu Dhabi’s Masdar development, a carbon-neutral, car-free city powered from alternative sources. It is claims more than 2 million trips have been made using the vehicles so far.

This YouTube clip shows the pods at work in Abu Dhabi.

2getthere has also built a similar system at Rotterdam’s Rivium Business Park in the Netherlands, which has six vehicles with a capacity of 20. The firm said 2,500 people use the pods a day.