TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Two consortiums to trial self-driving environmental service vehicles for road cleaning

They will apply AV technology to commercial mechanical road sweepers.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Ministry of Transport (MOT) have awarded research & development (R&D) projects to two consortiums, for the design, development and trial of autonomous environmental service vehicles (AESVs) for road cleaning, an announcement revealed.

The flagship projects are the first to be conducted under NEA’s Environmental Robotics Programme, which is in line with NEA’s efforts to better optimise resources, drive innovation, push widespread technology adoption, and improve productivity across the environmental services (ES) industry.

The two awarded consortiums consist of experienced and established players from the autonomous vehicle (AV) and ES industries, with the first consortium comprising of Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Enway, Veolia ES Singapore Industrial and Wong Fong Engineering Works. Meanwhile, the second consortium comprises of ST Engineering Land Systems and 800 Super Waste Management.

“Their proposals were selected by a multi-agency panel out of a total of eight proposals, based on their potential to fulfill the Government’s objectives for AESV deployment, as well as their prior experience in developing AV technologies and familiarity with road cleaning operations in Singapore,” the agencies said in a joint statement. “These proposals had been received in response to the request for proposals (RFP) jointly issued by NEA and MOT in December 2017.”

Also read: ST Engineering inks deal to expand its autonomous bus platforms

The two projects will apply AV technology to commercial mechanical road sweepers. NEA and MOT, which had worked closely with the National Robotics R&D Programme Office (NR2PO) on the formulation of the requirements and technical evaluation of the proposals, will continue to work with NR2PO to review the technical progress of both projects.

Each of the projects will be carried out over a duration of 18 months, and will comprise a development phase over a period of 12 months, followed by a proof-of-concept (POC) trial over a six-month period. Each consortium will develop one AESV unit.

The POC trials are expected to begin in 2020, and will be conducted in two stages. Each consortium will be required to test and demonstrate the safety features of their AESV units within the enclosed circuit and protected environment of the CETRAN AV Test Centre, and will only be allowed to commence trials on public roads at designated AV test sites such as one-north, after they have successfully passed a rigorous safety assessment.

“The AESVs are required to have on board at all times for the duration of the trials, a safety driver who is trained to take immediate control of the vehicle, in accordance to strict operational protocols,” NEA and MOT highlighted. 

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