There are already 200km of public roads available for AV trials in Singapore, but that’s not enough, shown by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announcement last week to expand this testbed, resulting in a total of 1000km road network available for AV trials across western Singapore. In fact, the extended test area corresponds to more than 10 percent of Singapore's entire road network.
The expansion will connect current AV testbed sites (Buona Vista, CleanTech Park, Jurong Island, Nanyang Technological University and Sentosa) and enable on-road testing in a wider range of traffic scenarios and road conditions – an important step towards more varied testing environments which will help accelerate the technology development.
However, the expansion will be incrementally deployed over the next few years. Trials begin in small-scale and will have to pass stringent tests before any expansion is permitted. Thorough safety assessments of the vehicles, qualified safety drivers and liability insurances, as well as distinct decals and markings, will be required for any on-road trials.
This kind of move makes good sense to accelerate technology development. Furthermore, it solidifies Singapore's position as one of the world's leading countries when it comes to deploying smart mobility.
Many of today’s public road trials are performed in designated areas where the traffic environments and potential scenarios are well known. By connecting these “well-known areas” step by step, we can slowly start building widespread AV services capable of more complex road settings and broaden the spectre from first-/last-mile services to longer journeys that can challenge the strong position of private cars. The ability to safely operate AVs at higher speeds and without safety drivers in mixed traffic will be crucial to address along with the expansion in order to create viable and attractive services.
Written by Hampus Alfredsson, RISE Viktoria.