Autonomous guided vehicles, hands-free fare gates: A glimpse into future of Singapore’s transport

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SINGAPORE: Smart wheelchairs, autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs) for the delivery of food and cargo documents, as well as a hands-free fare gate were some of the innovative ideas on display at a technology showcase held in conjunction with the 23rd ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting on Thursday (Oct 12).

Called the Future of Transport showcase, the technology initiatives provide a glimpse into Singapore’s vision for the future of air, land and sea transport.

At ground-handling firm SATS, a food delivery AGV “Dolly” helps catering staff to move multiple food trolleys from the kitchens to the airport lounges in a single trip.

Each vehicle, which moves an average of 500m for one trip at a speed of up to 6kmh, can transport up to 500kg. Previously, six catering staff were required to move these food trolleys over the same distance three times a day.

“Dolly” has already been in operation at Changi Airport Terminals 1, 2 and 3 since June. It has been a boost to productivity, a manager at SATS Catering Mr Haja Alaudeenvajid told Channel NewsAsia.

In particular, the vehicle, which uses sensor technology, has helped to lighten the work load of older workers who may find it more difficult than their younger co-workers to move multiple food trolleys.

A smart wheelchair system that allows staff to move multiple wheelchairs autonomously at the touch of a button is also being tested, along with a cargo document delivery AGV.

The latter transports documents to a centralised location for distribution to aircraft, and is able to navigate obstacles and recognise traffic light signals.

An autonomous guided vehicle to deliver cargo documents. (Photo: Tang See Kit)

“Technology will help as it takes away some of the dangerous aspects of jobs, like lifting heavy loads,” said Mr Donald Lum, assistant vice president of technology at SATS. “In the process, our older workers get to up-skill by interacting with technology … This also helps us to attract younger talent to the sector.”

A hands-free fare gate was also on display, as part of a proof-of-concept trial that the Land Transport Authority is embarking on to gain a better understanding of the technology, equipment and services needed to upgrade the current automatic fare collection system.

With this hands-free system, commuters will just have to wear an RFID or bluetooth-enabled fare card around their neck and they will be able to move through fare gates without having to tap in or out.

A mock RFID card for the hands-free fare gate. (Photo: Tang See Kit)

This seamless ticketing experience will benefit commuters with disabilities and could be tested out at “one or two” MRT stations next year, a Ministry of Transport representative told Channel NewsAsia.

Hosted by Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan, ministers from the other ASEAN member states also visited booths with presentations on Singapore’s vision for autonomous vehicles, as well as how the Next Generation Port at Tuas will leverage autonomous technology, data analytics and digital technology to increase efficiency, safety and security.

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