Onward Singapore: The motto of the smallest state in Southeast Asia sets the tone. The aim is for Singapore to become a smart nation by 2025
Singapore, the city of superlatives: Here, on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, live 5.7 million people from many different backgrounds. One of the world’s most visited cities, one of the most significant trading centers on the continent and the most important container transshipment center in the world – this is what vibrant Singapore stands for, and for much, much more – Singapore wants to become a smart nation and it’s well on its way.
From vision to reality
Countless nationalities, a variety of cultures and four official languages – hardly anywhere else does the concept of the inspiring melting pot apply so well as in the dynamic city-state. Visions for the future also fit in perfectly here. It is truly impressive to discover what is possible when society, politics and the economy all unite behind a major project. In November 2014, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong launched a globally unique initiative. Singapore is using state-of-the-art digital solutions to create a better future and will be the first smart nation in the world by 2025.
A smart nation is built not by the government, but by everybody working in cooperation – including citizens, authorities, businesses and institutions. Enthusiasm for investments, openness to new technologies and experimental concepts are the ingredients for Singapore’s apparent recipe for success. To promote exchange, the data infrastructure will be further expanded. Singapore focuses on optimum networking and open data, i.e. all data that can be made freely available for use and distribution in the interests of society, without any restrictions. The mobility of people and goods also plays a prominent role in the smart nation. This is why there are already firm plans for autonomous driving in Singapore, which is being driven forward by innovators. The ambitious initiative is coordinated by the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO), which reports directly to the Office of the Prime Minister.
A man with a mission
Five questions for Mr. Pang Kin Keong, Singapore’s Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Chairman of the Committee on Autonomous Road Transport for Singapore (CARTS)
Below: excerpts from the interview on 2025ad.com
Mr. Keong, why is the development of self-driving vehicles such a high priority for Singapore?
There are two main factors. On the one hand, space in our city-state is severely limited and, on the other, we don’t have a big enough workforce to solve the challenges posed by the transport sector. It’s not easy to find highly trained bus and truck drivers and, due to our limited space, a transport system geared toward private cars is not a practical solution.
Roads currently take up 12% of our country and this figure is continuing to rise. At the same time, we now have more than 1 million vehicles in Singapore. As we don’t have the luxury of being able to construct more and more roads for private vehicles, our future lies in public transport.
How can the people of Singapore benefit from this?
We have a fantastic opportunity to improve our immediate environment by radically changing our transport system. It would be wonderful to have landscapes that are not spoiled by roads, parking lots and vehicles and instead provide valuable space for pedestrians or cyclists, green spaces, homes and all types of public amenities.
Pang Kin Keong, Singapore’s Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Chairman of the Committee on Autonomous Road Transport for Singapore (CARTS)
“Our future lies in public transport.”
What does the long-term vision look like?
We envision a fleet of self-driving gondolas that travel on fixed connection routes, which can be requested via an app when needed so that people can go from their front door to the closest train station in air-conditioned comfort. In this way, we are solving connection problems at the beginning and the end of a journey to encourage more people to use public transport. We’re also planning to test self-driving buses and truck platooning to address the shortage of bus and logistics drivers. Goods deliveries, waste disposal, street cleaning – all of these things could be rescheduled to be carried out at night using driverless solutions to reduce daily traffic. Underground, we can continue to plan roads for freight routes, the majority of passenger transport and, of course, private vehicles. In this way, mobility could take the shape of an ingeniously designed living space.
Singapore has one of the biggest ports in the world, as well as a major airport. What role does autonomous mobility play in Singapore’s freight business?
We’re one of the world’s biggest transshipment hubs for containers, so container transport between the different terminals must be ensured around the clock. Together with the port operator, the PSA Corporation, we’re working on ways to test truck platooning – within the terminals and between them. This will enable us to increase the productivity of truck logistics and circumvent personnel shortages. Similarly, automated driving in various areas of our airport could transport passengers, for example, between terminals or from the gates to planes that are parked some distance away.
How does Singapore want to increase public acceptance of automated driving?
Many people say that this is a real challenge, but I don’t think it’s a particularly big issue in Singapore. It’s not really something new in our existing transport system. With the exception of our first two metro lines, all the others are driverless. Furthermore, these self-driving vehicles were very well received in numerous previous tests, with many people happy to try out the routes. Singapore adopts new technologies quickly and enthusiastically – and this will likely also be the case for automated driving.
Pang Kin Keong
“Singapore adopts new technologies quickly and enthusiastically – and this will likely also be the case for automated driving.”
Taking off to new destinations
1.Singapore plans flying taxis
Fly home from the office in comfort – why not? Flying taxis may soon be part of Singapore’s transport system. The Ministry of Transport is currently holding talks with several companies regarding the start of flight trials with drones that can transport passengers. It is expected that the flying taxi will be a reality by 2030.
On the next page:
The Scorpion drone is currently in the prototype phase and is one of many options for urban mobility in Singapore.
2. Truck platooning enters the intensive testing phase
At the beginning of 2017, together with selected truck manufacturers, the Ministry for Transport and the operators of Singapore’s vast port, the PSA Corporation, began the test phase for an autonomous truck platooning system, in which in a convoy of trucks driving one behind the other, only the first truck is manned. In phase 1, the test design was developed and adapted to the environment. Phase 2 begins in 2018, when the convoys will be transported along a 10-km test route between port terminals.
On the next page:
The principle of autonomous truck platooning and the planned test track between the terminals Pasir Panjang und Brani.
3. Thousands of new vehicles for e-car sharing
In December 2017 were launched the first vehicles of a new, large fleet that provide cleaner mobility in Singapore. The E-Car Sharing project started with 80 vehicles at 32 stations. Over the next four years, this vehicle fleet will gradually be expanded by a French supplier, with the goal of providing 1,000 vehicles at 500 stations, each of which will be equipped with four charging points. The four-seater, air-conditioned vehicles are operated by lithium-polymer batteries and have a range of up to 250 km.
On the next page:
Singapore Electric Vehicle: thousands of new vehicles for e-car sharing.
4. Research in collaboration
Research collaboration between Schaeffler and Nanyang Technological University. What about traveling short distances directly on an electric skateboard, which drives you home independently and safely and can be converted into a handcart that you can use to transport your shopping? Over the next few years, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore and the Schaeffler Group will be working together on this and other next-generation mobility concepts. For this purpose, a new research lab that develops new ideas for mobility in megacities has been set up by the Schaeffler Hub for Advanced Research (SHARE) at NTU.
On the next page:
Virtually unbeatable on short urban journeys – electric skateboards (e-boards) offer maximum mobility.
5. Working together on improved charging infrastructures for electric mobility
An energy group from France, an energy supplier from Singapore and an operator of electric vehicles are setting the course towards improved charging in the city-state – not just for cars but also buses. The feasibility of an electric bus, which can be charged in an instant – within 20 seconds – thanks to extremely powerful charging modules, will be assessed.
On the next page:
Such a so-called Bluetram, has already been seen on the Champs-Élysées in Paris for the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
6. Quantum Inventions from Singapore now part of Continental
Quantum Inventions, a provider of intelligent mobility systems from Singapore, and Continental are combining their activities to drive innovative transport systems forward. In particular, the 120 specialists from Singapore are leaders in the recording of urban traffic data, in modern navigation systems with real-time information and in toll road systems. Ralf Lenninger, head of Continental’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Business Unit, and Saurav Bhattacharyya, CEO of Quantum Inventions, and their respective teams, are delighted to be combining their strengths in the field of intelligent transportation systems.
On the next page:
Quantum Inventions and Continental are driving innovative transport systems forward by recording urban traffic data.
My kingdom for a parking space
What is a constant annoyance in big cities all over the world? Ask people living in Singapore and the answer will not need much thought: looking for a parking space, of course! Thanks to the Park&Go @SG app developed by Continental, help is finally at hand. The app enables drivers to find free parking spaces close to their destination in real time – including information about the estimated arrival time. The system also records spaces that have just been vacated as well as information about available car washes and parking spaces near to food courts.
Start finding parking spaces instead of looking for them
All in all, the app can provide information on more than 70% of all parking spaces in Singapore. To do so, it constantly evaluates various data sources from public and private partners. Integrated algorithms ensure that the app can even make predictions about how many parking spaces will be available at what time and what location. The app can also be used to purchase season parking permits, organize car maintenance and reserve preferred parking spaces. There’s no question that this app is quite suitable for a smart nation that wants to use its precious resources, time, space and energy intelligently.
“Fast and good to move around anywhere. Always a helping hand when we do not know how to reach an address.”
Videos, pictures, illustrations: Park&Go @SG is also on Facebook and features various posts and practical tips for parking on location.
New paths already
emerging at university
The next-generation smart nation engineers are on the starting blocks with new academic routes now open to them. The Bachelor of Engineering degree in the field of telematics is the first of its kind in Singapore. It is awarded by the renowned Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and is based on the first collaboration between Continental and a university in Singapore. The result is a powerful platform for exchanging ideas, knowledge, concepts and best practice applications, which is used by the student engineers to develop new solutions for the challenges of the smart nation.
Connected to the people in Singapore
The fact that people in Singapore are particularly technology-friendly and open to new ideas is not new to the corporation from Hanover. Continental Automotive Singapore Pte Ltd was founded 20 years ago and, since then, has been a linchpin for the development of on-board information management systems. In the modern research and development center – one of the corporation’s biggest in Asia – more than 1200 specialists are working on making their contribution to the smart nation.
An inspiration for the whole world – Singapore is impressively pursuing ambitious aims for its nature, people and living space. The love of design and holistic thinking follows the knowledge that new goals cannot be achieved with old methods. Singapore is becoming the first smart nation in the world.
Banyak kejayaan – we wish you continued success!
Continental Magazine Issue 2/2017