Test pilot program will feature seven vehicles, including an Audi SQ5

Autonomus driving and public transportation are about to venture together into a new frontier as Delphi Automotive announced plans to partner with the Singapore Land Transportation Authority for an autonomous public transportation program that will be tested and run in the Southeast Asian country.

The program, scheduled to run from 2016 to 2019, will have a long-term goal of offering autonomous public transport for citizens of Singapore. Since the whole thing is still in its infancy, the program will have a pilot phase that will consist of three routes within a business park, covering a total distance of just five miles. Delphi’s autonomous system is made up of cameras, as well as radar and liar. It also uses internal mapping technology, but as the system evolves, the plan is to field a supplier to provide a more comprehensive mapping technology.

“Safety drivers” will man the wheels in the initial go-round with the test vehicles running at no more than 25 miles per hour. But as the program becomes more stable, the goal is to have all the cars come with autonomous driving. Five to seven vehicles will be part of the initial field of cars, one of which will be an Audi SQ5. The rest, according to Delphi, will be full-fledged electric vehicles.

Eventually, the British-based automotive parts manufacturer hopes to establish the program as a viable method of public transportation within some of the world’s biggest urban cities. If the pilot program in Singapore takes off, the company plans to expand the program in North America and Europe, possibly as early as later this year, with the long-term goal of having the system up-and-running and ready for widespread use by 2022.

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Why it matters

I didn’t see this one coming, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Delphi Automotive picked a good place to test its autonomous public transportation program because Singapore is one of the most diverse and forward-thinking cities in the world. It’s also a technological hub, which bodes well for the acceptance of such a technology, even if it’s still in its own embryonic stage.

I’ve been to that country a few times and I can see who the program can take off if it’s proven to be successful. It also benefits Delphi because it doesn’t have to deal with a lot of the political red tape that it might have to if it launched the test programs in North America and Europe. Doing it in a place like Singapore is perfect because it affords Delphi the platform to freely perform its program in a country where such things are welcome to be understood on numerous levels.

Granted, the company understands that there’s still a lot of work to be done to get some form of legitimacy for its program. Singaporeans are smart when it comes to dealing with technology and they understand better than most what the positives and negatives are of having such a technology introduced into their roads. That’s going to put a lot of pressure on Delphi to really put its best foot forward and make a resounding impression with its autonomous public transportation program.

I’m confident that if Singapore accepts the program and adopts it for widespread use, a lot of other countries will look into the program for their own cities. Whether it gets that far is another question entirely and that’s something that only Delphi and the success of its autonomous public transportation program can answer in time.

Source: Autoblog

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