The world of autonomous electric vehicles as a form of mass transportation is something we’ve mostly seen in science fiction movies to date. There are those around the world though who are testing out these people movers of tomorrow in today’s settings, and one such project is taking root in Singapore between Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and JTC Corporation’s CleanTech Park.

An autonomous electric shuttle manufactured by Induct Technologies will soon be conducting riders along the two kilometer route between the locations. This project, the result of a partnership between NTC, JTU and Induct that’s supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board, will go on for two years as a study in “providing a safe, reliable and environmentally-friendly alternative mode of transportation.”

image via NTU
image via NTU

The Induct shuttle, called NAVIA, will be capable of carrying up to eight passengers and can hit speeds up to 20.1 km/h (12.5 miles per hour). It will be tinkered with by the Energy Research Institute @ NTU to “enable it to intermingle safely with traffic in Singapore.” Work will also be done to ” improve and enhance electric vehicle battery reliability and charging speeds, maximizing the efficiency” of the electric vehicle’s operations.

Making use of onboard sensors and lasers, the shuttle is designed to autonomously dodge obstacles in its path or stop if it detects someone in front of it. Software and intelligence systems will also be programmed for planned operation within a pre-defined route operating between JTC’s CleanTech One building and the NTU Yunnan Garden campus. Navigation is achieved in part through the use of GPS technologies.

Plans call for this test bed platform to be used in a variety of ways, including the development and testing of various new charging technologies such as wireless induction and new super capacitors for electric vehicles. It is the first of its kind in the region, according to officials, and

could pave the way for the integration of autonomous vehicles in Singapore’s transport system to alleviate the “first mile, last mile” transport problem (the first and final legs of a journey, the typical potential bottlenecks in a transportation system) faced by urban cities.

“We are pleased that Induct and NTU are embarking on an electric autonomous vehicle testbed in Singapore,” said Assistant Managing Director of the Singapore Economic Development Board, Mr Julian Ho, in a statement. “Autonomous vehicles, alongside electric vehicles, represent new growth opportunities that will allow Singapore to build systems-level capabilities such as intelligent sensors and charging solutions. This testbed is also aligned with Singapore’s position as a ‘Living Lab’ where companies can develop, test and commercialise innovative urban solutions for global markets.”