With autonomous vehicle technology growing more advanced, authorities in Singapore have launched a new centre that will pave the way for safe deployment of self-driving cars (SDVs) in the country.

The Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of AVs – NTU (Cetran) is a joint project between the Nanyang Technological University, the Land Transport Authority (LTA), and government industrial developer JTC Corporation.

Cetran will spearhead the development of testing requirements for SDVs, as there is no existing international standard. This would allow SDVs to be integrated with existing road traffic, which is an important step for widespread deployment of SDVs. These efforts will be supported by the 1.8ha Cetran Test Circuit, jointly developed by LTA and JTC to provide a simulated road environment for the testing of SDVs prior to their deployment on public roads.

NTU will lead research activities at Cetran, operate the Test Circuit and evaluate the SDV prototypes to be tested here. For example, the prototypes must display the ability to manoeuvre in local conditions such as traffic rules, traffic behaviour, road design and our tropical climate. The Test Circuit will also be open to industry players for the development and testing of their own SDVs.

The Test Circuit is expected to be operational in the second half of 2017.

The centre will house an expert research team formed by NTU that will perform testing in a computer-simulated environment representative of Singapore's traffic conditions, to complement the tests being performed in the test circuit.

Under the LTA-NTU agreement, Cetran being operated by NTU for a period of five years, during which NTU will collaborate with various international Testing, Inspection and Certification bodies, research institutions and industry partners on global standards and test requirements. These include BMW Group, testing body TÜV SÜD, the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) and TUM CREATE–a joint research collaboration between NTU and the Technical University of Munich.

"The launch of Cetran and the Test Circuit will put Singapore at the global forefront to develop such standards, to safely integrate SDVs into our transport system. It's also a significant step towards realising our vision of SDVs being used for first- and last-mile connectivity in our towns," said Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo.