Full Sized Autonomous Bus Test in Singapore

Mish

Full-size bus testing is underway. Some readers tell me this could not happen for decades. My calendar says its 2019.

Please consider Volvo to Test Full-Size Driverless Bus in Singapore.

Sweden’s Volvo Buses and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) on Tuesday unveiled a full-size autonomous electric bus for testing this year in the city state. High-density Singapore has been encouraging the development of driverless technology in hopes that its residents will use more shared vehicles and public transport.

Tests with one bus on the university campus could begin in a few weeks to months, before moving to public roads after regulatory approvals, NTU President Subra Suresh told reporters. He hoped the tests could be extended to public roads in a year. A second bus will undergo tests at a city bus depot.

The 12-metre (39 ft) vehicle can carry up to 80 passengers and is the world’s first full-size, autonomous electric bus, Volvo and NTU said. “This is the type of vehicle that real operators would use and that’s why it is a milestone,” Håkan Agnevall, president of Volvo Buses, told reporters

Singapore ranked No. 2 globally in an index that assesses countries’ openness and preparedness for autonomous vehicles, according to a recent report by KPMG. The city-state is hoping to deploy autonomous buses on public roads in three different districts from 2022.

The skeptics tell me this won't happen for decades, if then.

I suggest that if there is a snag, perhaps deployment will be delayed until 2023. That's four years from now.

By now, it should be pretty damn clear where this is heading.

In the US, interstate truck driving will be driverless no later than the same timeframe

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (25)
No. 1-8
Realist
Realist

I am looking forward to the widespread adoption of this technology as the benefits will be substantial. However, I still believe that you are over-optimistic on the timelines. Testing and development have been going on for the last decade. But I do not expect autonomous vehicles to have ”any” impact on the roads till 2025 or later. Perhaps they will represent one or two percent of all vehicles by then. The significant impact won’t happen till the 2030s, when autonomous vehicles become the majority of vehicles on roads. I’m not sure why you ”imply” that all interstate trucking will be ”driverless” by 2023. Or am I misinterpreting your view?

On the plus side, I expect that the first significant impact of autonomous tech will be a job boom in this field as companies ramp up for both production and implementation in the next decade.

jivefive99
jivefive99

The more correct Mish is, the faster average people will be kicked out of jobs. We need to discuss Universal Basic Income ASAP ... funded in some way by all the savings these robot vehicles are going to produce (unless the plan is to route all savings to the billionaires as usual). Homeless, starving people are not compliant robots -- we know how theyll react, and it wont be pretty.

KidHorn
KidHorn

Mish, you have a chip on your shoulder about this. I don't recall anyone stating that testing wouldn't occur for decades. I remember people stating widespread adoption would take a decade or more. And the jury's still out on that.

Sechel
Sechel

Even if the vehicles get designed for being driver-less there will still be a driver on board for emergency purposes. The reputational risk is large too, just imagine an accident and no driver. the headlines would be unbearable

themonosynaptic
themonosynaptic

Maybe I'm missing something here, but should we not expect very fast adoption once the first buses prove they can handle roads. Obviously there are few snowstorms in Singapore, so this technology might not work in Wisconsin in winter, but it seems that a bus proven to work in Singapore (apart from the fact they drive on the left) should work in many other places. The same applies to trucks, etc. The software can be replicated quickly and incrementally improves simultaneously across the fleet. The mechanics of building the non-software parts of the bus seem to be a fairly straightforward engineering task. I imagine that the sensors will be replaceable and they will improve quickly as well.

JonSellers
JonSellers

I live in a suburb. So I don't get the whole Autonomous Vehicle thing. It is much faster for me to drive to and from work in my car than it is to either wait for a bus or an Uber driver. Which is probably why those two modes of transportation are used in a minuscule way where I live.

Dropping the driver might reduce the costs, but my issue is time, not cost. And I'm not going to trade my personally-owned car for an AV because the AV is going to be more expensive and I'm going to have to give up my freedom to the car's programmers. Lose-lose for me.

I would think the only people clamoring for this technology would be big city dwellers like Mish, where you find driving and traffic to be a horrible experience to begin with. There, I would think personal transportation costs would skyrocket simply because the costs of the vehicles would be so much more. But maybe that is worth it just to avoid driving in heavy traffic.

The question is will there be enough demand from the traffic-hating big city dwellers willing to pay extra to make it a viable long-term market? More than the technology, I think this will be the big question.

As for buses, they're heavily subsidized by the government anyway. But I can see significant in-roads in the long-haul trucking industry. Assuming the technology actually gets there.

abend237-04
abend237-04

It's coming sooner than most think. The tipping point, where adoption will go exponential, will be when the large early testers like Waymo begin routinely publishing accident data.

The same thing happened with mandatory seat belts. Everyone had an opinion until the data showed that no seat belt was a huge killer compared to a seat belt.

tz1
tz1

There is a big difference between one test in a very controlled environment and commercially viable service across a region. Also note while we can take the first steps toward autonomous vehicles, Los Angeles has a problem with Hepatitis and Typhus, and San Francisco and Seattle can't keep the crime, feces, or needles off its streets. What happens when they use the autonomous vehicles as public toilets?


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