SINGAPORE: Twenty public buses in Singapore now have a blind-spot warning system as part of a six-month trial, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said during a demonstration of the feature on Monday (Apr 16).

The smart vehicle warning system, developed by Singapore Technologies (ST) Kinetics, alerts public bus drivers of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians approaching their blind spots while on the road.

From Monday, 20 buses from all four of Singapore’s public bus operators – Go-Ahead Singapore, SBS Transit, SMRT Corporation and Tower Transit Singapore – are trialling the feature. Ten of the vehicles are double-decker buses, while 10 are single-decked.

The system, which is known as the Integrated Smart Advanced Warning Unit (I-SAW-U), consists of four cameras and six sensors installed at the front, rear and on top of the buses. 

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The sensor and camera (in white) at the rear of the bus give the driver a wider field of vision. (Photo: Amir Yusof) 

When the sensors detect a vehicle, cyclist or pedestrian coming close to the vehicle, a screen at the bus driver’s cockpit will sound an alarm and display a visual signal.

The alert has two levels – amber and red. An amber alert means the obstacle is 1m away from the bus, while a red alert means when the obstacle is only between 0.5m and 0.8m away from the bus.

Mr Lewis Tan, principal engineer for ST Kinetics, said that the system allows the driver to slow down the vehicle and stop in time to prevent any collision.

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Drivers will be notified by an audio alert and a visual display will indicate where the threats are. (Photo: Amir Yusof) 

“We want to give them better situational awareness around the vehicle. With that, we will help to enhance the safety of the drivers and commuters,” he said.

Mr Tan noted that the system is not meant to add to the task-loading of bus drivers.

“This system, especially through the audio alerts, allows him to pre-empt the possible obstacles he will come across. Then … he can do a quick check on what is on the screen and this will help him determine where the threats are coming from.”

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The display on the screen informs the driver that there is an obstacle in front and on the right side of the bus. An audio alert will also sound. (Photo: Amir Yusof) 

Mr Tan said that at least 40 bus drivers from the four public bus operators have been trained to use the system.

Mr Azman Tumin, a driver with Go-Ahead Singapore, said that while it took him some time to learn how to use the system, he felt that it was “not difficult” to apply it. He has since used it to drive on two occasions.

“It’s straightforward to use the equipment and it will help us to ensure the safety of our driving. It reminds us of some hazardous obstacles we can encounter,” he said.

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The system can detect cyclists near the front and side of the bus. (Photo: Amir Yusof) 

Mr Tan highlighted that his team is still working to better use the I-SAW-U alert system.

“In this phase of the project, we are still gathering feedback and data to improve the system, so it’s a continuous job to improve it,” he said.

This proof-of-concept trial of the warning system is funded by LTA and ST Kinetics. LTA said it will review the results from the trial before deciding on the next course of action.

The authority added that it will continue improving the technology for the safety of drivers and commuters. 

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