Driverless technologies takes another step forward

The first driverless truck had started operations on Jurong Island. Logistics group Katoen Natie had put to work its truck in transporting polymer products between the company’s packaging and storage facilities.

The machine works 24 hours a day, seven days a week and does some 250,000 tonnes of goods a year. Far beyond the limits of any human operator. The fleet will be expanded after 6 months to 12 trucks, with the capability of moving 3 million tonnes of product a year.

70% of the funding of this technology was funded by government subsidies and each vehicle would pay for itself within a year.

Chief Executive of Katoen Natie said that the technology would greatly help in shortage of labour.

Over the years, the Ministry of Manpower had been tightening labour quotas. Many companies have found this challenging and Katoen Natie is facing the same difficulties. “We need to get smarter, and we need to get more productive,” said Koen Cardon, Chief Executive of the company. “This is exactly what we’re doing with this project.”

Singapore continues to test, experiment and rollout driverless technologies.

Earlier in January, Scania and Toyota Tsusho signed an agreement with PSA and the Ministry of Transport to design, develop and test a truck- platooning system – where a human-driven truck leads a convoy of driverless trucks via wireless communications, for use on the roads.

ST Kinetics announced in April that it planned to put two autonomous buses on the road from October 2020.

Last December, Nanyang Technological University announced plans to launch a driverless shuttle that ferries up to 15 passengers on a 1.5km route between CleanTech Park and the university campus.

Self-driving car startup NuTonomy hopes to launch a paid, commercial ride service in Singapore as soon as the second quarter of 2018. The company currently has a test service in Singapore with Grab and plans to charge riders for the new commercial service in Singapore.

How will drivers keep up? How can they prevent themselves from being made permanently obsolete?

It is for this reason that the government launched the $4.5 billion Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs), in an effort to transform the economy in a big way…but this would be a story for another article!

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