Friday, May 8, 2009

Electric Vehicles

Singapore is spending $20 million to experiment with the use of electric vehicles. The idea is to find electric vehicle that can be more economical to use, compared to the conventional vehicle. 

I wish to suggest a more bold approach. Can the electrical vehicle be used as the backbone of a new transportation system? 

Over the past decade, several innovative transportation thinkers have proposed the Personal Automated Transport (PAT) based on the following concept:

a)  Use of electric vehicles
b)  Automated system, i.e. no need for people to control the vehicle
c)  Running on a separate road system, preferably elevated
d)  Take the passengers from point to point, unlike a light rail system that stops at every stop
e)  The elevated road can use a small gauge, compared to a light rail system. 
f)   When the battery power runs down, it can be replaced with a fully charged battery. 

The PAT system operates like a taxi, but does not have a taxi driver. It operates like a private car, but does not require to find a parking space. It can take the passengers to the destination and can be booked by another passenger.

I like to suggest that the PAT system can operate to provide local transportation in a town, to bring people to the MRT station or bus interchange. 

I hope that a city like Singapore can develop this new concept and bring it to the world. This will be more efficient than a light rail system. It reduces the travelling time and brings greater comfort to commuters. 

Tan Kin Lian


  1. Hi Mr Tan,
    That's a great idea, but the extensiveness of the concept risks it being a "bottomless pit" that will probably take a lot more than $20m to achieve (

    Also, S'pore is not in the best position to lead R&D in this area, since we're not exactly at the forefront of the various engineering technologies required, to understate the fact.

    $20m over 3 years is not a large sum, and perhaps just enough to do that simple test-bedding exercise.

    Instead, as an issue of national budget, I propose the $20m be put into an area where S'pore has a strong competitive advantage in (e.g. something in biomed where the sea is blue and we have tons of foreign whales, or just in Temasek Holdings, I don't know), make real advances(big $) in that area, and then invest that $ to bring in personal automation implementations once the concept is realised and the technologies affordably reach mass market.

    "Invest in your strengths and buy the rest". :)

  2. Hi Mr Tan, It is a very interesting idea and i support the intra town idea because i think it might need a very complicated computer system to allow point to point travel between towns.

    I have some fantastic idea to incorporate into your idea but some of them might not be feasible in the near future. For example, photovoltaic cells can be put on the whole vehicle which can help to partly charge the fuel cell(battery) that is partly used to power the vehicle. In the long run after covering cost of installing the solar cells the price of these trips can be lowered based on savings from the free energy from the sun.

    Actually inter town can also be possible for those vehicle going to the same area for example to the CBD or to the different industrial parks for example by joining the vehicle to be like a train like that can travel at a much faster speed at a specific road for these vehicle and then dejoined when reaching near the area to go to the specific area.Sounds complicated.haha

  3. You have just re-invented public transport. Taking people right to their door should be an auxilliary to the transport system, not the basis.
    The quickest way to improve service would be to make it free. As more ride, transport political power and visibility will rise.

  4. Hi jd00d
    $20 million is just for developing the system. The cost of a system should be as much as a MRT line, so it could be several billions.

    If we are wiling to spend several billions for a MRT line, the same budget can be used to develop a PAT line which can operate more efficiently.

    Hi Drittzneo,

    The computer system to handle it this type of transport is quite easy. It is probably simpler than the computer system that is built into a GPS system that cost $300 now.


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