Aug 02, 2016

    Automated taxis to hit S'pore roads next year

    DELPHI Automotive will launch a small test fleet of automated taxis in Singapore next year, aiming to ferry passengers around a city district, the company said yesterday.

    The project, run in partnership with the Land Transport Authority, will road-test a concept that many companies investing in automated driving believe offers the fastest path to making such technology commercially viable.

    A cab ride in a dense urban area can cost US$3 to US$4 (S$4 to S$5.40) per 1.6km, Delphi vice-president of engineering Glen DeVos said in an interview.

    "We think we can get to 90 cents" with an automated vehicle, he added.

    That drops the price of transporting goods and people, and allows for the costs of automated driving systems to be spread over hours of operation and multiple users.

    Initially, the cars will have drivers ready to take over if the piloting systems fail, Mr DeVos said. But by 2019 or 2020, "we'll have removed drivers from the car".

    By 2022, the Singapore authority plans to launch a regularly operating automated cab service, Delphi said.

    The company said it plans similar projects in North America and Europe. A United States site could be selected later this year, he noted.

    Delphi plans to start the project with a fleet of Audi vehicles equipped with automated driving and mapping systems. Later, the project will expand with the addition of electric vehicles.

    Other companies are studying the economics of using automated driving systems to replace human drivers in taxi or ride-hailing services, including Uber Technologies and Lyft, which is collaborating with General Motors.

    Delphi is working with other companies, including Israel's Mobileye, to develop the sensor systems to enable vehicles to operate autonomously.

    The Land Transit Authority will supply infrastructure to help vehicles navigate safely.

    Delphi is doing its own mapping but Mr DeVos said it is looking at mapping alternatives, including a service offered by Mobileye.