Driverless, the years many companies such as Google,

Driverless,
robotic cars on Singapore roads still remain a controversy among Singaporeans.

What
is Autonomous vehicle (AV)? Autonomous vehicles are driverless vehicles that
use sensor based technologies. They use onboard sensors, cameras, GPS and
telecommunications to receive information using computer algorithms which
enables them to respond appropriately in critical situations. (What are CV and
AV?, n.d.). Over the years many companies such as Google, General Motors Co.,
Ford Moto Company and more have been working on developing AV technology
(Visiongain Ltd, 2016).

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Singapore
has been speeding up on the deployment of AV technology. There are already several
trials ongoing in public roads at One-North, Nanyang Technological University
and Gardens by the Bay (Kyriakidis, 2017). Last
year, Singapore government announced that self driving buses and shuttles will
be available in 3 towns by 2022. Singapore’s primary use of AV is to
supplement our existing public transport system as robot taxis and shuttle
buses. This can help to reduce the number
of private car ownership, reduce road congestion, reduce air pollution and free
up road space which can be used for other purposes. It can also reduce the
parking space in prime locations like CBDs, increase safety, access and
mobility (Cheah, 2017). This also reduces
manpower issues and cuts down on the labour cost. It would also be a great
convenience for the elderly, physically disabled and children who can’t drive a
car (Liang, 2017).

However,
there are many controversies linked to autonomous vehicles driving on Singapore
roads. Autonomous vehicles are driven solely by technology. The thought of what
would happen when a technical glitch happens, sends goose bumps to potential users.  Abdullah, 2016 reported, ‘Software Anomalies’
to blame for driverless car accidents which is on the first accident involving
a self-driving car that collided with a lorry in Biopolis Drive. It is caused
by a mix of software glitches that affected how the car responded to other
vehicles. The company, nuTonomy has made the necessary improvements to the
software system to prevent such accidents.

Next
issue is with the liability when an accident occurs involving an autonomous
vehicle. The debate on how the insurance will be paid out when one of the
parties involved could be an autonomous vehicle. The reason could be due to a
software or hardware problem so whether the manufacturer holds responsibility
for the accident still remains a dilemma. (Boon, 2016).

Another
problem that may affect many is the loss of jobs for our existing drivers. Many
Singaporeans earn their monthly salary as a driver; mostly in their late 50s.
This could be the only job they might have done in their entire lives. This
means that they are less skilled in other areas. If AV takes over their jobs,
it would mean that this group of people would be jobless, causing their families
to suffer. Not just the drivers but car dealers, repair shops and tow truck
operators will also be affected (Lim, 2016).
It will also reduce the need of foreign labour as not many young Singaporeans
would want to work as a driver. All this could eventually take a toll on our
economic growth.

Lastly,
the factor that has to be taken into consideration is on the data security.
These autonomous cars will have a large collection of data; data of people
identities, where they live, common travel routes, office address and/or
children school information. Though it is mentioned that hacking is not feasible,
the worry is on who owns these collected data; the rights of consumers,
manufacturers, insurers and government agencies (Lowrey, 2017).

With
all these ongoing controversies related to autonomous cars, government has
taken certain measures to curb them. Amendments had been made to the Road
Traffic Act to better control the trial of these cars. The developers are
expected to adhere to a suite of rules and share all related data with LTA
during the trails. With the safety of road users as the top concern, these
amendments were passed into law on 7 Feb 2017 and will be in force for five
years. After this period, the Transport Ministry could consider to extend or enforce
more permanent laws (Cheong, 2017).

In
summary, the main controversies relating to implementing
driverless vehicles on Singapore roads would be the safety concerns, liability,
loss of jobs and data security. However, our government has been taking
all measures to ensure that everything is on the right track. Autonomous
vehicles are still in the development stage now and require many trials before
it can officially take its space on Singapore roads.  With Singapore’s forward looking
mindset, autonomous vehicles are here to stay; It is more about when and how it
is going to happen.