A look into the future: The city state of Singapore sets the course for the future mobility of its inhabitants. Two TÜV SÜD employees embark on a journey of discovery to the hotspots of this development.
8 o’clock in the morning, Singapore is waking up and Bishan MRT station is buzzing. From the surrounding high-rise buildings, people are on their way to work in droves – on foot or by electric scooter, by bus or by taxi, and some even with private cars.
Subway trains on the Circle and North South lines leave the station in three-minute intervals. The business center with its glittering high-rise buildings is only a 15-minute ride away, the rambling science and research campus around the university can be reached in 25 minutes.
On the top deck of a multi-storey car park, directly above the bustling MRT station, Jin Sohyeon is standing and watching the hustle and bustle below. The 23 year-old electrical engineer arrived in Singapore about half a year ago from her homeland of South Korea – and is fascinated by the busy urban life in the six million metropolis.
TÜV SÜD Digital Service Center of Excellence, Singapore
The native Korean has been living in Singapore since the end of 2016.
Her specialist field at TÜV SÜD is the sensor-supported monitoring of “smart” lifts in buildings.
Modern, sustainable and highly efficient: this is how the southeast Asian city state, covering an area less than half the size of London, would like to be seen. “Singapore has invested a lot over the past years so that its inhabitants can get from A to B quickly and comfortably,” explains Eley Querner. “Unlike most of the other Asian cities, Singapore has focused its attention from an early stage on establishing a dense public transport network and has attempted to avoid reliance on private vehicles.” The 51 year-old Eley has been working for TÜV SÜD in Singapore for two years and is very familiar with the mobility strategy of her adoptive country. Her specialist field: the safety of connected systems.
Together, Jin Sohyeon and Eley Querner will spend the day traveling through the city – exploring Singapore’s most important mobile project of the future: the metropolis aims to make its traffic “smart” – and “highly automated” driving plays an important role. Subway trains, buses and taxis are expected to be automated and driverless in just a few years. Autonomous connected cars, ideally used as car-sharing vehicles, will make up a good part of the traffic, all of them connected to keep the traffic flowing. And they should be so safe that accidents are a thing of the past.
“Moving towards a new connected and interactive land transport community” is the vision of the Smart Mobility 2030 strategic plan launched by the government of Singapore two years ago. It signals a revolution in the way people get about in a big city – and will result in the city state becoming the world’s most modern metropolis in terms of traffic control.
TÜV SÜD Digital Service Center of Excellence, Singapore
The expert for telecommunication networks and connected systems is responsible for TÜV SÜD projects concerning new mobility in Singapore and has extensive international experience, including in France, Germany and Indonesia.
Jin Sohyeon and Eley Querner experience what this may mean, for example, in Punggol, a new residential district that has emerged near the Malaysian border in recent years. Hardly any of the approximately 100,000 inhabitants of Punggol commute in their own car to work – although the suburb has two city highways and is actually really well connected. Too much trouble, too little parking and above all, much too expensive: most people here just don’t have their own car. Punggol’s mobility lifeline is the MRT line. And this takes passengers almost to their front door: because a ten kilometer long monorail runs straight from the central subway station right through the suburb. This morning, women with shopping bags, students on their way to university and a number of pensioners are pushing their way into the two train carriages. The railway vehicle starts smoothly. Its special feature: it moves automatically, without a driver in the driver’s seat. “Sensors in the trackbed and train stations still control the train,” explains Eley Querner. “The technology for automated operation may soon be in the vehicle itself – as with automated cars.” The advantage would mean significantly lower costs than before and a better transferability of the technology, also to other railways.
Rail transport, Eley went on to say, would remain a central pillar in a smart mobility network, supplemented, however, by developments such autonomous road vehicles and new forms of car sharing.
What the next step of the development might be can be viewed on the premises of the CleanTech Park in western Singapore. Since 2012, the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore has been using “navia” highly automated shuttle buses in the collaboration project. The second generation of vehicles went into operation only a few weeks ago. Jin Sohyeon and Eley Querner enter their destination on a touchscreen in the bus and take a tour around the university campus. There is no steering wheel in the bus with which they can intervene in the traffic. As a pedestrian crosses the road in front of the minibus, the vehicle stops gently – its radar sensors and cameras have detected the hazard and stopped the bus “like magic”, remarks Jin. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to be done to ensure that the vehicles will be really safe in future use under real conditions. “Two factors are decisive: the system does what it is supposed to do, for example, recognizing obstacles and traffic signs reliably, and that it is protected from external hacker attacks or unintentional technical faults”, explains Eley. With support from TÜV SÜD, large testing grounds are currently being developed for the highly automated cars and buses.
Discovering Singapore: Eley Querner and Jin Sohyeon reflect on mobility in the metropolis.
The journey starts at Bishan in northern Singapore.
The next stop is Punggol, a new residential district that has emerged near the Malaysian border in recent years.
The monorail runs right through the new suburb.
CleanTech Park in western Singapore: Here, the Nanyang Technological University runs several research institutions.
Since 2012, the Nanyang Technological University has been using “navia” highly automated shuttle buses in the collaboration project.
Hightech park one-north is home of the life science cluster Biopolis.
As a strategic test and certification partner, TÜV SÜD is part of the project in one-north.
Finally, Eley Querner presents the provisional endpoint of the development in the high-tech park onenorth: since 2015, Singapore’s transport authorities have been testing the specific use of highly-automated passenger cars in inner city traffic in a research project. On a roughly six kilometer-long test track, vehicles from up to eight manufacturers will be driving around the public road network until 2019. As strategic test and certification partner of Singapore, TÜV SÜD is part of this project and is developing test methods and criteria that continuously assess its success to ultimately decide how successful the project has been. “The transport authority deliberately chose TÜV SÜD as a partner, because we have been testing the safety of highly-automated vehicles for many years with our network of competence centers and we also look after test routes in Germany.”
At the end of the day, Jin Sohyeon and Eley Querner are convinced: the mobility of tomorrow will be connected and autonomous – in Singapore, and sometime in the future in the rest of the world as well. But only if there is someone to ensure that the new technologies are also safe – for example the experts from TÜV SÜD.