Fast Cars: Singapore and Malaysia Propose Automobiles of the Future

While Malaysia plans to debut its first flying car this year, Singapore intends on positioning itself at the front line of self-driving technologies and they're both in it to win it.
Thursday 7 March 2019

It seems like the future of automobiles is set to be electric for now if you ask Porsche, whose Taycan launches in 2020 or Tesla, whose V3 Supercharger can charge up to 1,000 miles an hour. Or even self-driving and flying in the near future, if we are to go according to reports that Singapore is working on a self-driving car while Malaysia is set to launch a flying car later this year.

Malaysia’s entrepreneur development minister Datuk Seri Redzuan Md Yusof recently revealed that a prototype of a flying car already exists, and it will be the country’s first-ever flying car driven by local technology. Expected to be unveiled this year, he assured reporters that “this year is a realistic target because we have the technology. It is all about the speed of implementation.”

“The flying car project is a way for the government to create an environment that stimulates people to think about new technology,” Yusof said,  adding that “the project is also done to utilise the country’s capabilities in the aerospace, drone, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and automotive sectors. We need to use our skill set because the bottom line is we want to be a producing nation.”

Malaysia isn’t the only one pursuing flying cars. Take a look at the Pal-V, for example, which plans to have its first car available to customers in 2020.

 

 

 

Meanwhile in Singapore, it’s self-driving cars like startup Moovita’s MooAV that could be the car of the future. The MooAV is one of many autonomous vehicles being put to the test at a special centre in Singapore dedicated to developing and integrating self-driving vehicles and public transport. Dillip Limbu, MooVita’s CEO, said the MooAV’s quirky design, is intentional. “In order for the public to know that this is different to conventional cars, it needs to be noticeably different on first impressions, and stand out in comparison to other cars,” he said.

The MooAV, which is still in research and development, functions much like an ordinary car on the university test track, respecting stop lights, stopping for pedestrians and taking passengers from one point to another. According to Limbu, cars like the MooAV will become a common sight in Singapore for ferrying passengers on fixed routes in Singapore in the next few years.

Start-ups from around the world are coming to the purpose-built track that recreates an urban environment over 5 acres at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University. The roads look like any other in the city, with stop lights, crosswalks and traffic signs. There’s even a rain simulator. It’s all part of an effort to test how autonomous vehicles cope with all those elements.

 

Moovita autonomous vehicles being put to the test. Photo: CNN

 

 

 

Projects like Nanyang’s test track have helped Singapore become a hub for the development of self-driving vehicles. That role fits with the city-state’s broader push to encourage the growth of its tech sector and tackle some of the challenges it faces at the same time. “Singapore is aging more rapidly and at a faster rate than anywhere else in the world, and so we have a situation where, in order to provide mobility for seniors, it would be really advantageous to have such technology available,” said Subodh Mhaisalkar, the professor in charge of Nanyang’s Energy Research Institute, which carries out autonomous vehicle research.

The institute’s self-driving work focuses on groups like the elderly or disabled who they believe would be the first to benefit from the technology. Concern about a potential bus driver shortage in the coming years is also a reason for developing new forms of public transportation. “We’re asking the question for the last mile. Can we replace some of the transportation options with autonomous vehicles?” Mhaisalker said.

 

Mingling on Singapore’s roads in designated towns and zones. Photo: CNN

 

Who will win the race? Flying cars may seem like the vehicle of the future, but will everyone be able to afford it? Singapore’s self-driving cars will function very much like Uber or Grab where you can use an app to book your ride, making it more accessible to the public while Malaysia’s flying car is also aimed at the transport industry and could possibly be made available to the public for purchase in the future if things go well. Whichever way this goes, it’s definitely an exciting time for the automotive industry.

 

Source: CNN International / The Star

 

Related: Why Southeast Asia is One of the Best Places to be an Entrepreneur