Published Date: Mar 2024


Emerging Technologies Drive Testing of Self-Driving Cars

Singapore is rapidly emerging as a global leader in autonomous vehicle technology. The city-state has designated several "test bed" areas to trial different autonomous driving technologies and scenarios. Major companies like nuTonomy, Aptiv and Volvo Cars are partnering with the government and various Institutes of Higher Learning on pilot programs. This real-world testing aims to help Singapore smoothly transition to driverless transport.

One North, Singapore's largest science park, opened the nation's first test facility for autonomous vehicles in 2017. Spread over 1.5 square kilometers, it provides a controlled environment for companies to hone self-driving capabilities. So far, nuTonomy has conducted over 35,000 driverless taxi rides there, carrying passengers within a limited five square kilometer zone. This follows a series of earlier trials on designated roads and expressways.

Jurong Island Readies for Autonomous Buses

Another key trial site under development is Jurong Island. Home to Singapore's major petrochemical plants, this industrial zone can benefit greatly from autonomous transportation. Construction is underway to upgrade existing roads and infrastructure for driverless vehicles. JTC Corporation plans to introduce self-driving electric shuttles and buses by 2021. These will move workers within the sprawling island complex, helping reduce accident risks in hazardous areas. The goal is to establish Singapore's first fully autonomous bus service here.

Expressways Get Self-Driving Makeover

Singapore's Land Transport Authority is working closely with partners to launch autonomous services on highways too. Major expressways like Bukit Timah Expressway and Seletar Expressway have been designated for testing connected and driverless vehicle technologies. Volvo Cars partnered with local autonomous tech company nuTonomy to conduct a series of trials with safety drivers on these routes, gathering valuable data on road conditions and traffic behaviors at high speeds. Such initiatives aim to eventually enable fully unmanned driving on Singapore's expressway network.

Taking Driverless Vehicles to Residential Areas

The next phase of trials moves self-driving transport further into housing estates and public areas. Aptiv and the Housing & Development Board have partnered to launch an on-demand driverless shuttle service within Punggol town in early 2021. Residents will be able to hail these electric vehicles using a mobile app for first and last mile connectivity. Separately, nuTonomy is conducting short two-seater automated vehicle rides within one of the busy downtown malls, evaluating passenger experiences and interactions.

Overcoming Challenges through Simulation

While real-world testing is vital, Singapore is also emerging as a leader in simulating autonomous driving scenarios. The ASTI-SAMETAL Advanced Robotics Centre (SARC) houses Southeast Asia's largest high-fidelity simulator for driverless vehicles. Engineers can model a host of conditions here, from different weather to traffic patterns, without putting real cars on public roads. This helps validate software and enhance safety before conducting live pilot programs. Other institutes like the Singapore University of Technology and Design also operate smaller simulators for localized research.

Regulatory Reforms Support Wider Adoption

For autonomous vehicles to be commercially deployed, the legal framework must also evolve rapidly. Singapore has amended several transport and traffic laws to accommodate driverless operations. Key updates include provisions for remote monitoring, clarifying responsibilities of manufacturers and operators, and defining levels of vehicle autonomy. The government aims to publish a comprehensive regulatory sandbox for self-driving tomorrow. Such reforms promote Singapore's goal of having autonomous vehicles form 20% of all vehicles here by 2030. This would likely include a fully operational city-scale driverless taxi fleet.


Through sustained partnership between industry and academia, Singapore is methodically pushing the boundaries of autonomous mobility. Its strategy of carefully controlled yet expansive "living lab" trials across diverse landscapes sets it apart from others. This real-world, data-driven approach helps solve intricacies for mass adoption. With policy reforms harmonizing laws for new technologies too, Singapore is well-positioned to commercialize self-driving solutions on an unprecedented domestic scale. The city aims to translate these learnings into exportable skills and standards for a driverless future worldwide.