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Singapore will trial a full-size autonomous bus

It'll shuttle up to 80 people at once.

Singapore will trial a pair of driverless buses. No, not micro buses, nor "Ollis" -- full-sized buses, measuring 12 meters (40 feet) long. The vehicles will operate in the Jurong West region of Singapore, where the island's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is situated.

The buses will ferry up to 80 people between NTU and the neighboring "eco-business" hub CleanTech Park -- around a one-mile journey. The team behind the trial is also considering servicing a nearby train station, which would extend the route to around a 5-mile round trip. The vehicles will charge at depots and at bus stops via charging masts.

It won't be the first trial of a full-sized autonomous bus. Among others, Mercedes-Benz's Future Bus took a 12-mile ride around Amsterdam back in June. Nonetheless, Singapore is something of a hotbed for autonomous vehicle testing. NTU and CleanTech Park have hosted a driverless Navia shuttle for three years now, while this year alone authorities have green lit trials of autonomous pods and nuTonomy's self-driving taxis. (One of those taxis was recently involved in a minor accident, but the trial continues).

"Current efforts worldwide have been focused on cars," NTU's vice president of research Professor Lam Khin Yong told Channel NewsAsia. "So, this autonomous bus trial is the first of its kind in Singapore that will aim to improve road safety, reduce vehicle congestion, alleviate pollution and address manpower challenges."

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