MOT, PSA to test self-driving trucks soon
Singapore, January 2017 - The Ministry of Transport (MOT) and PSA Corporation have signed agreements with two automotive companies, Scania and Toyota Tsusho, to design, develop and test-bed an autonomous truck platooning system for use on Singapore's public roads. With this, Singapore moves another step closer towards autonomous freight transport. These agreements follow from a Request for Proposals (RFP) exercise, suite to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) inked between MOT and PSA in October 2015 to collaborate and co-fund truck platooning projects.
Truck platooning involves a human-driven lead truck leading a convoy of driverless trucks. In the Singapore trials, the trucks will transport containers from one port terminal to another. Efficient freight movement is critical to the competitiveness of our port. Truck platooning will also alleviate our shortage of manpower, and allow more freight movement to be conducted at night to ease traffic congestion.
Said Mr Pang Kin Keong, Permanent Secretary for Transport and Chairman of the Committee on Autonomous Road Transport in Singapore (CARTS), “Trucking as we know it today is a highly labour-intensive industry. We face a shortage of truck drivers. In this regard, truck platooning technology presents us with an opportunity to boost productivity in both the port sector and the trucking industry. It will also open up opportunities for truck drivers to take on higher-skilled roles as fleet operators and managers.”
Mr Ong Kim Pong, Regional CEO Southeast Asia, PSA International added, “As PSA prepares for our future terminals at Tuas, it is timely that we move on to the next steps in developing autonomous truck platooning technology. I am excited by the progress being made, as it underlines our joint commitment to being future-ready, while also helping us continue to serve our customers better through fast and efficient inter-terminal container movement.”
Scania and Toyota were shortlisted based on the quality of their proposals and strong track records in both truck manufacturing and the development of self-driving technology. Both companies will be working to develop technologies to enable heavy vehicles to move in leader-follower formation, as well as to fully automate the processes for precise docking and undocking of cargo.
The truck platooning trials will take place in two phases over a three-year period from January 2017 to December 2019. The first phase, lasting about a year, will focus on designing, testing and refining the truck platooning technology to adapt to local conditions. The trials will be conducted by Scania and Toyota in their respective research centres in Sweden and Japan, to leverage their existing development work. Depending on the outcomes of the phase 1 trials, MOT and PSA Corporation will then select one of the companies for phase 2, which will consist of local trials and some development of the technology in Singapore.
A 10-km long test route along West Coast Highway has been designated for the phase 2 trials. The trials will initially involve inter-terminal haulage between Brani Terminal and Pasir Panjang Terminals, and may eventually be scaled up for haulage within the port area, as well as between Pasir Panjang Terminals and Tuas Port.