Singapore Tries Out Self-Driving Buses but are they Dangerous? - Dispatch Weekly

October 19, 2016 - Reading time: 6 minutes

Singapore has signed an agreement to test self-driving buses aiming to increase autonomous technology to help improve with limited land and labor.

High-density areas where pollution and congestion are common are testing autonomous technologies hoping that driverless vehicles will help improve the situation with traffic and increase the numbers taking public transport.

The Land Transport Authority has ambitions to put sensors on current buses, developing a self-driving system that navigates Singapore’s traffic and climate conditions.

Autonomous Vehicles for Cleaning and Refuse Collection

Singapore wants to collect information and research from institutes on the possibilities of self-driving vehicles for street cleaning and refuse collection.

Other areas of Singapore include the Western district, where a driverless car crashed with a truck recently, which needs further investigation to eliminate dangerous accidents.

Advantages of Self-Driving Vehicles in Singapore

  • New buses will be fitted with digital screens and the latest technology
  • Helps reduce cars and congestion on the road
  • Helps provide mobility for disabled, families and young people
  • Commuters can rely on reliable transport to and from work and home

Examples of Autonomous Cars Colliding

Photo Credit: Ministry of Transport, Singapore
Photo Credit: Ministry of Transport, Singapore

One of Google’s self-driving Lexus SUVs drove into a bus at low speeds according to writer, Mark Harris.

According to the report:

“The Google AV test driver saw the bus approaching in the left side mirror but believed the bus would stop or slow to allow the Google AV to continue.”

“Approximately three seconds later, as the Google AV was reentering the center of the lane it made contact with the side of the bus.”

“The Google AV was operating in autonomous mode and traveling at less than 2 mph, and the bus was travelling at about 15 mph at the time of contact.”

Since 2015 Google Cars Have Experienced Many Crashes

Google stated in 2015:

“Over the 6 years since we started the project, we’ve been involved in 11 minor accidents (light damage, no injuries) during those 1.7 million miles of autonomous and manual driving with our safety drivers behind the wheel, and not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident.”

Investing $4 Billion in Driverless Cars in the US


Photo Credit: Ministry of Transport, Singapore
Photo Credit: Ministry of Transport, Singapore

At present the Obama camp aim to spend nearly $4 billion in a decade to make driverless cars in the US a reality, aiming for safer roads and less traffic accidents.

The program needs to set up connected vehicles that talk to eliminate crashes. Testing methods, policies and rules by state officials all need to be defined.

Are Autonomous Vehicles Safe?

A lack of guidance from regulators is slowing the introduction of driverless cars. Due to there not being a national road map for approving autonomous vehicles, progression cannot be made.

The US is focusing on improving safety technology to reduce 32,000 annual road fatalities.

Driverless cars are in a period of testing which has led to crashes and accidents, but in the near future these vehicles could provide a solution to reducing pollution, becoming a safer and more convenient mode of transport.

Would you feel safe traveling in a self-driving bus? Do you think autonomous vehicles will decrease congestion or merely add to it?

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.