First Driverless Vehicles for the Public Launched in Singapore Park

First Posted: Oct 22, 2014 08:54 AM EDT

Imagine a car that can transport you where you need to go-without an actual driver. Does it seem like something out of science fiction? It's more of a reality in Singapore. Scientists have created two driverless golf cart-like buggies that can take riders on driverless trips through a park.

The driverless buggies are currently being tested at the Chinese and Japanese Gardens in Singapore. Visitors to the gardens can obtain Mobility-on-Demand (MoD) by booking any of these vehicles with an online booking website. Then, commuters can monitor the location of the vehicles online.

Dubbed DJ (Driverless Jockey) and BX (Buggy Xtreme), the two golf carts have been fitted with about $30,000 worth of technology and can ferry up to three passengers per trip. Travelling up to 10 km/hr, DJ and BX travel along footpaths and communicate with one another so that their paths don't overlap. The passengers can use a touchscreen in place of a steering wheel in order to select their destination on the vehicles.

"Operationally, these autonomous buggies will be closely monitored by the team throughout the whole deployment," said James Fu, the project leader, in a news release. "Our researchers will shadow the movements of the buggies on electric bicycles. This is to provide an additional level of safety as well as to provide passengers with further elaboration on our research work should any queries arise. This public deployment is very useful to our continued research work as we will not only be gaining invaluable feedback from the public but to also further identify any other limitations of our system through the prolonged deployment."

Moving forward, the team hopes to further improve how the vehicle's path interacts with pedestrians, and improve how the vehicle can convey its own intentions to pedestrians. This will be especially important if the vehicles gain wider use.

"It is very impressive to see the pace in which Singapore is exploring how self-driving vehicles can be used for urban mobility," said Emilio Frazzoli, the lead investigator. "At the moment, few countries are taking the bold step to consider self-driving vehicles into its ecosystem."

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