Autonomous vehicle rules ("AV Rules") were introduced in Singapore in February 2017 providing rules for prospective trials of autonomous vehicles and automated vehicle technology, and prospective use of autonomous vehicles. During 2017, Singapore saw several trials announced in a diverse range of areas. Parties announcing trials included businesses looking at autonomous bus and truck technology, ride hailing applications and tourist services. Given the increased interest in Singapore in autonomous vehicles and automated vehicle technology, we outline points to consider if seeking authorization to conduct a trial or use of such vehicles or technology. The AV Rules require authorisation from the Singapore Land Transport Authority ("LTA") for trial of an autonomous vehicle or automated vehicle technology, or use of an autonomous vehicle, on any public road. The AV Rules and broader legislative framework give the LTA the ability to effectively implement a regulatory sandbox in relation to any such trial or use. This allows the LTA, for example, to create bespoke licensing conditions and demarcated trial areas. The discretion provided to the LTA leaves it open for an applicant to engage with the LTA on the solution to be authorized. However, there are certain overarching conditions to authorization and duties of authorized operators prescribed under the Road Traffic Act and the AV Rules which have to be followed. If you are considering approaching the LTA about an autonomous vehicle or automated vehicle technology project in Singapore, other practical issues to check include:

  • Ensure any application to conduct a trial or for use sets out all activities you may wish to undertake including uses such as ride sharing, if applicable. (An initial application may be made to the LTA here).
  • Correspond with the LTA well in advance in order for the autonomous vehicle or automated vehicle technology operation to be assessed in order for the requirements to be established. Check beforehand all safety or other technical requirements the LTA may wish to impose.
  • Check your technical solution meets the duties imposed on autonomous vehicle or automated vehicle technology operators, including data recorder requirements for a vehicle. (In this regard, the AV Rules may be found here).
  • In addition to the Road Traffic Act and the AV Rules, a prospective trial or use may be subject to restrictions on location of use under other laws such as the Infrastructure Protection Act (which was passed late in 2017 but has yet to come into force) and the Protected Areas and Protected Places Act. You should review such requirements in light of the nature of your proposed trial or use.
  • Telecommunications licensing requirements may be triggered by the types of telecommunications equipment and/or networks used and/or operated in relation to autonomous vehicles or automated vehicle technology. You should review telecommunications regulatory requirements in light of the technical specifications of the vehicle or technology in question.

Also in this edition we have a client alert which outlines important new rules on road tests for autonomous vehicles in China. Click here to read the alert. For more information, please contact Anne Pettard and Joseph Chan.