TUMCREATE Phase 2 aimed to see the evolution of the urban bus system to a more convenient, connected and efficient public transport system. With Singapore as the study ground, TUMCREATE introduced the concept of a Dynamic Autonomous Road Transit (DART) system that consists of a fleet of mixed-size modular electric, autonomous road-based vehicles, with high level secure communication between vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-intelligent infrastructure, to realize an efficient, attractive and comfortable mobility service.
The ultimate goal was to see the current bus system into a fully-connected, new shared-mobility system encompassing flexible-and fixed-route services, along with low to high passenger capacity services, intelligent passenger information services and providing good connectivity to the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system.
Key characteristics of the DART System
Shorter travel times through faster boarding/alighting at intelligent stops and prioritisation of public transport on the road and at traffic light junctions
Versatile operation using modular autonomous vehicles
Flexible passenger capacity during peak and non-peak hours by dynamically platooning modular DART vehicles
Shorter waiting times at stops through demand-responsive dispatching of modular autonomous vehicles
Cleaner urban environment by using electric battery-powered vehicles with zero local emissions
These characteristics allow the DART System to dynamically adapt to the required capacity and enable different operational strategies to create an integrated DART system and improve passengers travel experience.
For high capacity:
DART vehicles are platooned, creating a line capacity of up to 6000 persons per hour in main corridor lines. Routes, service frequency and stops are fixed. The platooning concept allows the required passenger capacity to be adjusted while keeping the headway constant.
These high capacity platooned services are accelerated using on-demand lanes and traffic signal prioritization and redesigned intelligent stops to accommodate long platoons and reduce waiting time at stops.
For medium capacity:
Operation is similar to current bus system by using a small number of modules operating as a platoon. Routes, service frequency and stops are fixed. The platooning concept allows the required passenger capacity to be varied, creating a line capacity of up to 1200 persons per hour (like a bus line), but with shorter waiting times.
The DART vehicles will use the existing infrastructure of roads and stops.
For low capacity:
Single DART vehicles will serve as an on-demand service for low passenger capacity routes (of up to 30 passengers), using the existing road infrastructure and stops.
Stops are fixed, routes and service frequency are flexible.
The DART system can provide all public transport needs below the MRT passenger capacity.
TUMCREATE's research was organised in six different research areas:
The area of Rapid Road Transport (RRT) identified suitable application of the DART concept and developed guidelines and methodologies for planning, operation and integration of the system into an existing transport system, through detailed network planning and optimisation. On top of developing fleet management concept with the use of autonomous vehicles and platooning capabilities, RRT also investigated comprehensive, pro-active transport management concepts for the acceleration and prioritisation of DART vehicles. This included a real-time traffic control algorithm at traffic lights, on-demand public transport lanes, termed Virtual Right-of-Way, and the usage of a new innovative pavement concept for efficient and effective pavement maintenance and rehabilitation.
In Area-Interlinking Design Analysis (AIDA), transport models were investigated in detail using modelling and simulation techniques with the results being made available to all other areas. AIDA served as a centre point and integrator of diverse concepts and technologies for the other areas, which would otherwise have to be developed in isolation. Furthermore, AIDA provided common data structures and information logistics for the collaboration of all the other areas on all operational levels. AIDA is the product owner of the “virtual demonstrator”.
The area Electrification Suite & Test Lab (ESTL) was dedicated to electric mobility that reduces local emissions and improves the quality of city living. For a seamless integration into the power system, demand side management strategies were investigated. In order to make the electricity supply “greener”, alternative sources of energy and their storage options were considered, both from within and outside of Singapore. On-the-road charging and improvement of reliability using stationary energy storage systems was developed in close cooperation with RRT as the charging infrastructure is mutually dependant on the bus and future DART network. Design alternatives for the charging infrastructure in the presence of modular and scalable vehicles were also investigated.
The working hypothesis of the area Individual Mobility Vehicles & Services (IMVS) was shared with RRT. While RRT considered the overall transport concept and defined the required capacity and operational characteristics of the DART vehicles, IMVS used those outputs to propose detailed vehicle concepts (e.g. flexible minibus) to suit this new transit mode. To TUMCREATE's overall transport solution, IMVS contributed suitable vehicle concepts, co-developed with support from DAM, SMAT and AIDA.
In the area Design for Autonomous Mobility (DAM) the challenges of autonomous driving were investigated in the context of public transport. Novel concepts for meeting those challenges are under investigation. The concepts developed for enabling autonomous driving were complemented by the novel technologies developed under SMAT. In addition, the user experience in the presence of autonomous vehicles was investigated.
With emphasis on automated traffic management and deployment of autonomous vehicles (AVs), the area Sensing and Management for Agile Transport (SMAT) provided sensing technologies to enable a “virtual right-of-way” for DART, to collaboratively detect traffic incidents, and to aid the enforcement of traffic rules. SMAT was organised around the working hypothesis that the agility and key performance indicators of the public transport system can be significantly improved by enabling enhanced flow of information between the demand and the supply sides.
The programme comprised TUM and NTU Professors acting as Programme Principal Investigators (PPIs), and experienced researchers at TUMCREATE acting as Project Principal Investigators (PIs).