Automatic, Driverless Car Pods Could Be Realized In Singapore Later This Year

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The future of transit is coming faster than we think — it might even arrive in Asia by the end of this year.

Transport company SMRT and Dutch automated transit firm 2getthere have partnered to see the latter's "Group Rapid Transit" (GRT) operating in Singapore and the Asia-Pacific region in 2016, they announced Wednesday.

2 getthere
(Photo: 2getthere)

GRT vehicles can carry 24 passengers at a time and operate in "demanding weather conditions, using artificial landmarks for navigation," said a news release.

They're ideal for transport in areas such as city centres, residential neighbourhoods, theme parks and airports. A GRT project has already been installed at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and the Rivium business park in Netherlands.

Similar vehicles known as Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) already operate in Masdar City, an Abu Dhabi project that, at its completion, will be a carbon-free area that houses 40,000 people and 1,500 businesses.

Phase 1A of Masdar City's PRT system will see a network of driverless cars about 1.4 kilometres long, taking people and freight to five stations.

The pods are fueled by Lithium-Phosphate batteries, which can power them for 60 kilometres after charging for only 1.5 hours.

One can't help but be reminded of the automated cars in the sci-fi movie "Minority Report":

The technology comes as the world creeps ever closer to a driverless future.

Earlier this year, General Motors announced a $500 million investment in ride-sharing company Lyft to develop driver-free cars you can call through an app.

Meanwhile, Ford is also growing the size of its driverless test fleet.

These innovations are likely happening so that the brands can beat companies such as Tesla and Toyota to building autonomous vehicles.

Check out more photos of the GRT vehicles planned for Singapore and the Asia-Pacific region:

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