ComfortDelGro to invest S$30M on autonomous vehicle facilities

ComfortDelGro taxis queue in Singapore. Photo by Benjamin Chan on UnsplashComfortDelGro taxis queue in Singapore. Photo by Benjamin Chan on Unsplash

ComfortDelGro plans to invest S$30 million to establish an autonomous vehicle center to build its capability in operating and maintaining the vehicles, the land-transport operator said in a filing to SGX Wednesday. 

The Autonomous Vehicle Centre of Excellence (AV CoE), set up via ComfortDelGro’s S$100 million venture capital fund, will focus on research and development over the next five years, the filing said. The center will be used to develop a technology platform to support mobility services using autonomous vehicles (AVs), with a view to deploy them commercially, ComfortDelGro said. 

“This is an investment in our future. AV technology may still be in nascent stages of growth but we believe they will emerge as the main driving force in time to come,” Lim Jit Poh, ComfortDelGro’s chairman, said in the statement. 

“The objective of this investment is not for us to get involved in the actual development of AV technology but to invest and leverage on AVs to develop driverless operational procedures and trial new mobility services. We want to be ready to not just operate and maintain such vehicles, but be a forerunner in the running of such vehicles,” Lim said.

ComfortDelGro said work had already begun, with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed with Intel’s Mobileye, which develops vision technology for driver assistance systems and autonomous driving. 

Under the deal, the Singapore company will use Mobileye’s technology to build new skills in driverless operations, incident response, fleet management and maintenance, the filing said. The AV CoE will also explore developing an AV operations management platform which could be scalable and transferable outside Singapore, the filing said.

In addition, two all-electric self-driving robotaxis will be part of a pilot trial in Singapore in the first half of next year, subject to regulatory approval, ComfortDelGro said. The two AVs will use Mobileye Drive, a self-driving system which has been tested in Israel, the U.S., Japan, Germany and France, the filing said. 

ComfortDelGro will handled the vehicle maintenance and operation management, while Mobileye will handle maintenance training, the filing said, adding when the trial was completed, the two companies would look at a vehicle platform to deploy the robotaxis commercially. 

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