Researchers in Singapore are running a trial of self-driving mobility scooters aimed at helping people move across short distances. Nathan Frandino reports.
With the touch of a finger... NATS: "Let's say I press." ...researchers at the National University of Singapore are rolling out the latest model in self-driving scooters. This 50-kilogram vehicle can follow a predetermined route and drive at up to 6 kilometers an hour. Project leader Marcelo Ang Jr says this low rider drives slower when its laser sensors detect obstacles or people in its path. He says the vehicle can help people multi-task without risking injury. SOUNDBITE (English) PROJECT LEADER, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR MARCELO ANG JR. SAYING: "I'm sure you have experienced people who just use their handphone while walking, and almost running into you, these things, so it would be nice if you are just sitting down and checking your emails, doing something - your choice. We just give you more choices." Currently the scooter takes a few seconds to calibrate a new route when obstacles arise -- something Ang says the team is looking to improve. SOUNDBITE (English) PROJECT LEADER, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR MARCELO ANG JR. SAYING: "Next time when you see it, it won't take so long before moving, it would be even better than a human. So people won't ask anymore, that 'I can still be faster'." On campus, students like Kevin Xiangyu Hui say they're impressed. SOUNDBITE (English) STUDENT KEVIN XIANGYU HUI SAYING: "It is really awesome. It goes really smoothly and travels very safely, so when you sit on this machine, you'd feel really relaxed and it's really great." And that could be especially great for students trying to finish assignments on the way to class.