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Automated, Driverless Vehicles Could Be Southeast Asia’s New Transport System

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

Credit: @NicholasBoey ART Johor

Some Singaporeans planning on visiting Johor Bahru, Malaysia will see a somewhat familiar vehicle (yet a new sight to Malaysians) along the roads.

The Automated Rapid Transit (ART) System is now being pilot tested along the roads of Johor Bahru – the first city in Malaysia to receive it.

The ART System is a mix of a traditional bus, train and tram. It has cabins like a tram or train, and will have a 300-passenger capacity with three cabins and 500 with five cabins, The Edge Markets reported.

The ART System is equipped with cameras that can read traffic signs, allowing it to drive through urban traffic and pick up passengers automatically. A conductor is still needed to provide oversight to the ART System’s automated decisions, however.

It also runs on hydrogen or electricity, making the ART System eco-friendly while also reaching top speeds of 70km/h. According to its manufacturer, China Railway Construction Corporation, a 10-minute battery charge will yield a 24km range.

China has also implemented the use of the ART System in its various cities. Credit: CRRC

The ART’s System pilot test is a part of the Iskandar Malaysia Bus Rapid Transit project to enhance Malaysia’s southernmost region’s economy and development.

Should the ART System be proven roadworthy, the Malaysian Institute of Transport will provide a report to the Malaysian government in favour of adopting the ART System for nationwide use.

According to Datuk Lai Voon, Ireka’s group managing director, the arrival of the ART System is a “great step forward for our urban transportation business in the year ahead.”

The Malaysians aren’t the only ones testing driverless buses in the Southeast Asian region.

One of Singapore’s driverless buses operated by SMRT and SBS Transit Credit: Timothy David

Driverless vehicles are not a new concept in Singapore. It can be remembered that driverless buses were tested in Singapore’s Sentosa Island last 2019. Some of these vehicles were even tested in places like industrial areas and universities.

After solving some issues such as oversensitive sensors, the Singaporean government is now taking steps to integrate the use of driverless buses for everyday public use.

The Straits Times reported that commuters in Singapore can now ride on driverless buses for a small fee for the first time. The driverless buses can be found in Singapore’s Science Park 2 near Haw Par Villa and on Jurong Island.

A round trip in the areas mentioned would cost S$0.40 and S$2 respectively.


Written by John Paul Joaquin

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