Drones and driverless cars (MOT)

New transport technologies like drones and self-driving cars have the potential to improve our quality of life, increase productivity and contribute to economic growth. It is important that regulation stays ahead of the curve, so as to provide a welcoming environment for these technologies, while addressing safety and security concerns.

Committee of Supply Debate, Ministry of Transport, 11 March 2015

Mdm Chair,

New transport technologies like drones and self-driving cars have the potential to improve our quality of life, increase productivity and contribute to economic growth. It is important that regulation stays ahead of the curve, so as to provide a welcoming environment for these technologies, while addressing safety and security concerns.

Commercial aerial drones have seen an explosion of interest in recent years. They have found an eager marketplace among movie-makers, online retailers and security companies, just to name a few. Even the National Environment Agency (NEA) is reportedly planning to use drones to search for mosquito breeding grounds. Global spending on drones could be almost US$100 billion over the next decade.

There are legitimate concerns about safety, security and privacy, but these can and should be addressed without stifling innovation. MOT said that it has started reviewing the regulatory framework for drones. May I ask for an update, including when the public consultation will take place and when the review will be completed?

Self-driving cars will revolutionise the urban transport scene. They are potentially safer, and can drastically reduce the car population, free up car park space and cut down on emissions. Many countries are in the process of passing laws to allow driverless cars to be tested on public roads, including Sweden, Japan and several US states. Big technology companies and major car-makers, as well as some local research institutions and companies, are all racing to develop their own self-driving cars.

As with drones, I believe Singapore is in an excellent position to lead the world in the adoption of driverless cars, but we must ensure that legislation promotes, and does not inhibit, the test-bedding and public use of these vehicles.

Government regulation in many countries often lags behind technology. Singapore should strive to do things differently, and be among the first to reap the social and economic benefits of these innovations.

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