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Friday, 19 May 2017 | MYT 10:30 AM

Driverless trucks to help run Singapore chemical company

Driverless trucks like this one are set to be used in Singapore as a way to end the need of finding people to drive them, an unpopular job in the city. — Handout/Katoen Natie Singapore/dpa

Driverless trucks like this one are set to be used in Singapore as a way to end the need of finding people to drive them, an unpopular job in the city. — Handout/Katoen Natie Singapore/dpa

A chemicals company in Singapore is planning to introduce driverless trucks guided by GPRS in a bid to reduce its need for truck drivers. 

The trucks, a collaboration between the Singapore Management University and Dutch-based VDL Groep, will be trialled by chemicals logistics company Katoen Natie from September. 

In the first phase of development, they will be guided by transponders installed on designated driveways in an enclosed area within the Katoen Natie petrochemical plant on Jurong Island, according to the company's CEO, Koen Cardon. 

Future phases will then include the transponder system being replaced with a GPRS system, before the trucks are eventually introduced to public roads outside the complex. 

The project aims to relieve the burden on the company of finding truck drivers, a role which Cardon believes is difficult to fill. "Young people have no desire to become a truck driver," he says. 

Cardon says the company's drivers could be redeployed into other functions once the trucks are in operation. 

Replicating such a project in other countries may be difficult due to seasonal weather conditions, but Cardon says Singapore has the right framework to make the truck trial a success. 

The trucks were spearheaded by a team of students from the Singapore Management University and the IE Business School in Spain, in cooperation with VDL Groep, which has previously tested out the autonomous technology in other countries. 

If the trucks are successful after a three-month trial, 11 more will be deployed. — dpa

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