On 09 May 2017, local media reported that Belgian logistics company Katoen Natie will be testing 12 driverless trucks on Jurong Island, with the first to commence in September this year.
The entire project will be conducted in three phases, with each using progressively more advanced technology and involving a wider area of operation.
The first phase will see Katoen Natie's trucks plying a route between two fixed points about 6-8km long in a chemical plant on Jurong Island. Transponders will be installed on the route to signal the trucks' positions to the control centre. In phase two, the transponders will give way to a GPS system, and the test area expanded. In the last phase, the trucks will be tested on public roads, potentially carrying containers between various chemical plants on Jurong Island or even to Tuas. This is slated to occur in 2020, where the first autonomous buses are also expected to start running on public roads.
According to Mr Wallace Tay, the project manager at Katoen Natie, the deployment of autonomous truck will allow them to cut down the number of drivers required, and redeploy the manpower to other higher skilled job roles. None of the drivers will be made redundant.
"We are excited for Katoen Natie to be pioneering the first of its kind autonomous driving truck trials in Singapore at its Jurong Island facilities," said Mr Damian Chan, Executive Director, Energy & Chemicals, Singapore Economic Development Board. "If successful, it can pave the way for further productivity improvements in the logistics activities on Jurong Island, and enhance the competitiveness of our chemicals sector."