Before the end of this year, Singaporeans could be hopping on these futuristic, driverless pods to get to school and work.
In an ongoing effort to help Singapore develop new and innovative transportation solutions, the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMRT) had launched Singapore’s very first locally-developed driverless car, early this year, that is designed for operations on public roads anytime before the year is up.
Adapted from its prototype of driverless golf carts, these pods, dubbed as SCOT (Shared Computer Operated Transport) would be ready for operations by the end of this year. Unlike other driverless cars which are retrofitted with expensive 3D laser sensors, SCOT relies on low-cost and off-the-shelf LIDAR sensors which would enable the car to drive independent of the Global Positioning System (GPS). This unique feature allows it to drive seamlessly even in tunnels and places where GPS signals may not be as strong.
A collaborative project between SMRT and the National University of Singapore (NUS), this concept vehicle for Singapore also aims to help promote car pooling as it is able to resolve the rebalancing issue when cars are shared.
2getthere, the Dutch maker of the pods is building 24-passenger cars that are slated to run commercially by the end of year 2016. They have established a new joint venture called 2getthere Asia that will operate and maintain the vehicles in the city-state.
The cars are expected to be able to handle a load of up to 8,000 passengers per hour going in a single direction. These pods look like the larger versions of the ones that already run in Abu Dhabi’s cleantech business park, Masdar City which were also produced by 2getthere and SMRT back in 2010.
The pods run on Lithium batteries and can return to base to charge themselves. They would be able to travel autonomously on smaller roads, such as those within a gated community or school campus.