Autonomous vehicles can drive the future of mobility

A Navya SAS autonomous electric passenger bus travels past a crosswalk at a test circuit of Nanyang Technology University in Singapore on May 22, 2018. Photo: Bloomberg

Hong Kong and Singapore, like many cities across the world, are grappling with growing congestion, overcrowded transport and roadside pollution. Add into the mix limited land supply, and it’s clear that the prioritization of electric vehicles and connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) are just what these two cities need.

Technology is changing the way we move from point A to B – the most advanced CAVs can communicate with each other and the surrounding environment without the need for a human driver. A study by the Boston Consulting Group indicates that by the end of the next decade, 20-25 percent of the miles driven by Americans will be replaced by fully driverless vehicles operated by ride-sharing services. While the US market differs slightly in mobility challenges, one can expect that the adoption level will be in-line with population and environmental demands.

In Hong Kong, the government has ambitiously targeted 30 percent CAV adoption by 2020 – in a city where 70 percent of cars on the road are privately owned. Singapore has forecast a 10-fold increase in electric vehicles for car sharing and taxis by 2020, and plans to have self-driving buses and shuttles on public roads by 2022.

The arrival of CAV is inevitable. However, exactly what form this disruption will take in our cities is yet to be fully defined. Cities around the world have different visions of suitability and adoption with Singapore putting CAV at the heart of the future of mass transit in its Smart Nation vision, bypassing tech-savvy capitals like New York, San Francisco and Paris. There are even plans to integrate a 5G network into the transportation system itself.

Regulatory and government influence

Since 2016, Singapore has been developing CAV technology through collaboration with the government, automotive manufacturers, technology companies and universities, carrying out tests to ensure CAV safety and feasibility on public roads. This year, it will trial its first self-driving shuttle bus that will operate in mixed traffic conditions alongside regular buses, cars and motorcycles.

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