The NUSmart Shuttle Autonomous Bus Trial is a one-year study operated by ComfortDelGro Bus to determine the commercial viability of providing safe autonomous shuttle bus services within the National University of Singapore (NUS)’ Kent Ridge Campus.
Following initial trial runs, the NUSmart Shuttle commenced public trials on 30 July 2019, but was suspended from 7 April 2020 due to the coronavirus situation. Testing of the vehicle continued without passengers, and the trial formally ceased on 26 January 2021.
This trial is funded by Inchcape Singapore, as touted as the first autonomous shuttle bus that is being run by a land transport operator in real mixed traffic conditions alongside regular buses, cars and motorcycles.
The NUSmart Shuttle vehicle is an EasyMile EZ10, an autonomous, low-floor, battery-electric mini-bus built by French company EasyMile, with a capacity of 12 people. The vehicle was brought into Singapore by Inchcape Singapore and registered as a Research and Development vehicle, with this unit bearing the plate number RD3168X. Sometime in 2020, the bus was re-registered to RD3173E.
The EasyMile EZ10 was launched in April 2015, and conceived as a last-mile transit solution, enabling smart mobility in urban, suburban or private areas. It is a bi-directional electric autonomous shuttle where steering and braking are performed without human intervention.
The NUSmart Shuttle embarked on a 1.5-month-long road test from 25 May 2019 at NUS’ Kent Ridge Campus, plying on a 1.6km route between Heng Mui Keng Terrace and Business Link as part of a mapping process — through the collection of data for the vehicle’s navigation systems. The shuttle travelled at speeds between 5km/h and 16km/h during this period and was staffed with an onboard operator.
Validation tests were conducted over a four-week period after the road test (throughout the month of July), running for three hours daily.
During this period, press release information indicated that the shuttle would not be taking passengers. However, NUS staff and students were invited to preview rides onboard the autonomous bus during the validation test phase, with an onboard operator.
Passenger Service Trials
The official launch of the trial took place on 29 July 2019. Between 30 July 2019 and 6 April 2020, the NUSmart Shuttle ferried passengers along the 1.6km route previously mapped in the road test. This service is reflected as “AV1” on bus stop poles.
During the passenger service trial, the capacity of the vehicle was limited to only 6 seating passengers and 1 wheelchair passenger, as opposed to the full capacity of 12 passengers. Service hours, currently limited to just 2 hours a day, would be progressively extended, as mentioned by the operator ComfortDelGro Bus.
Although it is a driverless vehicle, the NUSmart Shuttle was operated with a Safety Operator on board for safety reasons. The Safety Operator would be on hand to provide information to passengers and ensure safe operation of the vehicle, including offering manual input in challenging circumstances, such as proceeding forward at a junction, or overtaking parked vehicles.
During the trial duration, the NUS NextBus mobile application (Android/iOS) was used to push out alerts regarding the service (such as days of non-operation), and to provide next-bus arrival timings at bus stops.
More photos of the bus and interior can be found at: EasyMile EZ10
After public trials
Public trials were suspended from 7 April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, testing of the bus continued without passengers, and the trial formally ceased on 26 January 2021.
ITS World Congress Singapore 2019 Exhibition
The NUSmart bus, RD3168X, was showcased at the ITS World Congress Singapore 2019 demonstrations area at The Float @ Marina Bay. As part of the demonstrations, the autonomous bus plied a fixed circuit within the compound fetching exhibition visitors.
- Autonomous shuttle trial starts at the National University of Singapore – NUS
- NUSmart Shutte – NUS UCI
- EZ10 Autonomous Shuttle starts trial at National University of Singapore – EasyMile
- ComfortDelGro’s self-driving shuttles to start picking up passengers at NUS – Straits Times
- Autonomous NUSmart Shuttle Begins Passenger Service Trial – ComfortDelGro
- NUSmart Shuttle Passenger Service Trial Ends – NUS Office of Campus Amenities (OCA)
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