In an attempt to find a solution to curb accidents involving phone-obsessed walkers, researchers at National University of Singapore have come up with a self-driving scooter, which at the moment can carry a single person and drive along footpaths. Developed at National University of Singapore (NUS), the one-seater scooter weighs about 50 kg, and can travel at a top speed of 6 kmh (4 mph), and has laser sensors to help navigate around obstacles.
The project, a collaboration between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), and NUS, will be further tested and is not for sale. The scooter has undergone successful tests on campus and developers said it can help improve mobility for all ages, cut down on the need for cars and also lower accident rates.
“I’m sure you have experienced people who just use their handphone while walking, and almost run into you … so it would be nice if you are just sitting down and checking your emails,” said NUS Associate Professor and project leader Marcelo Ang Jr.
“We just give you more choices.”
Ang Jr said that the scooter would be able to work in tandem with other driverless vehicles in Singapore, where robo-taxis are being tested and trials are planned for self-driving buses.
Currently the scooter takes a few seconds to calibrate a different route when it nears an obstacle – something Ang Jr. said the team was looking to improve. “It goes really smoothly and travels very safely,” said student Kevin Xiangyu Hui, who tested the scooter.