Singapore going all in on self driving cars at city scale

In land-scarce Singapore, 12% of their land is set aside for roads and transport infrastructure. With a growing population and more than one million vehicles on the road, the challenge lies in optimizing the use of our limited space for more efficient, safe, reliable, and enhanced transportation.

Nextbigfuture interviewed Karen Tay on the Singapore Smart Nation Initiative.

Singapore wants to use autonomous buses and trains for long distance movement of people. Self driving cars would be for the first and last mile.

Singapore wants to develop self driving and other vehicles to deliver transportation of goods and people at SCALE.

Singapore approving city scale testing of self driving and other solutions and then putting the resources, regulations and planning to deploy a city scale solution. The business models are also being tested, modified and proven.

Singapore is designing many of its new towns to minimize vehicles and parking lots at the ground level. Autonomous shuttles will take people the first and last mile, such as from the train or bus depot to their home. Singapore is planning and wanting the full benefits of self driving and is counting on it to reshape the city-state.

12% of land is for roads and parking and 14% is for houses. Elimination of roads and parking from ground level would nearly double the habitable area of Singapore. Singapore has a very high population density.

Singapore is going all in on self driving cars and is moving at speed with its full resources.

Karen Tay writes at

Singapore is willing and capable to change and modify regulations in weeks to accommodate strategic technology.

Products from Singapore and its partners would then be marketed worldwide to other cities.

Self-driving vehicle was first approved for Singapore public road testing at one-north in July 2015.

nuTonomy, an MIT / SMART spin-off
A developer of autonomous vehicle technology with focus on launching a commercial autonomous mobility-on-demand service in Singapore. The company is led by two of the pioneers in this field from MIT, Drs. Karl Lagnemma (CEO) and Emilio Frazzoli (CTO). It has offices in Boston and Singapore, and employs experts in perception, motion planning, and decision-making with PhDs from MIT, Caltech, NUS, and NTU, as well as other leading academic institutions.
nuTonomy’s software has been tested in the US, Singapore, and Europe.
nuTonomy was the first private company – and the third applicant – to obtain approval for public road testing at one-north as of April 2016.

Gardens by the Bay, in collaboration with ST Engineering
Introduced the Auto Rider, the first fully-operational SDV in Asia aimed at enhancing connectivity within the Gardens and providing visitors with an alternative, revolutionary mode of getting around.
Fully electric-powered and air-conditioned, each vehicle has a capacity of 10 people.
On 22 June 2016, Gardens by the Bay launched the Auto Rider for public rides.

Energy Research Institute (ERI@N) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
The self-driving golf cart and electric shuttle around NTU and CleanTech Park (an eco-business development in Jurong) can fetch up to 8 people and travel at a maximum speed of 20 km/h.

A self-driving, air-conditioned shuttle that can carry up to 15 passengers will soon ply a 1.5km route between CleanTech Park and the NTU campus.

These are part of NTU’s plans to eventually trial two full-sized autonomous bus in its campus in 2018.


Imagine booking a self-driving shuttle or pod with a tap of your smartphone that can bring you from your doorstep right to the train station; or being able to suggest and book bus routes through an app and thereafter simply hop on to get to your destination!

Perhaps in future, we could have a real-time demand-driven intelligent transport system that optimises the use of land, reduces reliance on limited manpower, while giving commuters more convenient and pleasant rides!

Examples of Mobility-on-demand

Delphi Automotive Systems and nuTonomy

Through separate partnership agreements with the Land Transport Authority (LTA), Delphi Automotive Systems and nuTonomy will trial their shared autonomous mobility-on-demand concepts in the one-north test-bed.

Delphi and nuTonomy were shortlisted from several participants which submitted proposals under the Request for Information (RFI) issued by LTA in June 2015.

If these trials prove successful, the projects will be developed into full-scale mobility solutions for towns in Singapore, bringing more comfort and convenience for commuters, especially for first-and-last-mile and intra-town travel.