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LTA partners ST Kinetics to develop and trial autonomous buses

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The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is partnering ST Kinetics, a subsidiary of ST Engineering, to develop and trial autonomous buses in a 31/2-year-long project.

THE Land Transport Authority (LTA) is partnering ST Kinetics, a subsidiary of ST Engineering, to develop and trial autonomous buses in a 31/2-year-long project.

Under the agreement, ST Kinetics will develop and integrate autonomous vehicle technology into two 40-seater electric buses that can be deployed for fixed and scheduled services within and between towns.

These buses will use a satellite-based Global Positioning System and a suite of sensors to scan and determine their location and immediate surroundings. They will also have radars and sonars that can detect other vehicles and pedestrians up to 200 metres ahead.

These buses will be tested in various environments, with potential trial locations being Jurong Island and the National University of Singapore campus.

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Initial testing will be done during off-peak periods, said LTA, and as the buses are gradually equipped with more advanced capabilities they will be progressively introduced to more complex trial sites.

The development and trial of these buses is aimed at covering as many scenarios faced by bus feeder services as possible; the trial could be extended to public roads in towns for intra-town travel in the longer term, said LTA.

Most autonomous vehicle technology developers currently focus their efforts on developing self-driving cars, said LTA chief technology officer Lam Wee Shann.

"Singapore's need for high-capacity vehicles to address commuters' peak-hour demands presents and opportunity for companies such as ST Kinetics to develop autonomous buses to address this latent demand," he said. "This is also in line with the whole-of-government effort to explore and apply smart technologies to improve our lives."

ST Kinetics had been shortlisted under LTA's Request for Information issued in June 2015. The government agency was seeking proposals on how technology for autonomous vehicles can be used as part of wider land transport planning.

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