It looks like the government of tiny island state of Singapore is totally obsessed with the idea of autonomous vehicles. Not so much with everyday passenger vehicles, though, but for other purposes like shore-to-ship deliveries, public transportation (buses and trains) and now, even road sweepers. In response to the government’s call for autonomous road sweepers in 2017, two consortium have been shortlisted to design, develop and test self-driving road sweepers.
The first consortium is made up of National Technological University (NTU), Enway, Veolia ES Singapore Industrial and Wong Fong Engineering Works while the second consortium comprises of ST Engineering Land Systems and 800 Super Waste Management. The Autonomous Environmental Service Vehicles (AESVs), as it is called, will be put to a two-stage trial.
The first of the two-stage trial will see each consortium testing the vehicles’ safety features at CETRAN AV Test Centre and once that is successfully completed (i.e. meeting the authorities’ requirements), it will then green lit for public roads trial at designated autonomous vehicle test sites, including One-north, a high-tech business cluster.
The first consortium appears to be have the upper hand since German-based Enway is already in the business of developing autonomous cleaning machines, including road sweepers, while Veolia is in itself an experienced international waste management company and NTU is no stranger in autonomous arena. Wong Fong Engineering Works, on the hand, is an old hand in making hardware for waste management services.
We are not familiar with ST Engineering Land Systems, though. However, we know that 800 Super is also one of the pioneers in waste manage in the inland state and has contracts in up keeping the roads cleanliness. Anywho… the aim of AESV is to bump up the productivity of road cleaning operations that is critical in maintaining a clean and green city.
Road cleaning is a job often shunned by locals and more often than not, companies handling road cleaning operations have to turn to foreign workers to fill those voids. With AESVs, it will help alleviate the dependence on the foreign workers. Moreover, automation, which is part of the autonomous endeavor, will also help to address the issue of aging population where there are shrinking supply of able bodied person to fill the manual tasks like operating the road sweepers.