December 23, 2014

The Car of the Future Comes to Singapore

Singapore seems to be a city-state of transportation legends: its trains are state of the art and run on time. More than that: they are free for early-bird commuters - in fact, better than free: if you come in before 7.45am your zero fare comes with a breakfast voucher.

This all makes sense if you consider Singapore's equally legendary commercial spirit: because nothing wastes time and money as traffic congestion. This is why Singapore has a strict cap on the number of personal cars.

But still they have congestion. So now they are considering the idea of inviting a new kind of legend onto their streets: the driverless car.

I've said it before: in my ideal future, there will still be cars on the road. Fewer than now. I may have the use of any of them, but none of them are mine: I will be done with car ownership.

Quite possibly I - and myriad commuters - will also be done with traffic congestion, because if every car were driverless that takes away the need for traffic lights and other traffic control devices that avoid accidents but do slow traffic down.

Singapore has already done a successful on-campus demonstration a driverless Mitsubishi i-MIEV electric car, developed in a collaboration between the National University of Singapore and MIT.

Driverless Car Demo, NUS-MIT

In 2015 Singapore will test driverless cars in real-life traffic. The pilot will be much like an Uber service, only there are no drivers involved. This was announced by Lam Wee Shann, director of the futures division for Singapore’s Ministry of Transport. The "futures division"!

Why wait for the future if you can shape it?



You may also like:
1. The Car of the Future
2. Limits on car sales in Singapore: a model for capping carbon emissions?
3. How to Drive on the Wrong Side of the Road (and Live to Tell the Tale)


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