Friday, July 3, 2009

Innovation fund of $20 million to promote electrical vehicle

Singapore has set aside an innovation fund of $20 million to promote the use of electric vehicles.

I suggest that some money in the fund be used for this project:

a. Establish a car sharing scheme using electric vehicles
b. To be operated for short distance transport within a town
c. Use GPS navigation to drive the vehicle automatically to the destination
d. Install safety devices to prevent collision
e. Operate within a maximum speed of 30 km.

I believe that the future of electric vehicles is for a new mode of operation, i.e. as a taxi without a driver. It will be fun to call an automated taxi to pick you from a stop near your home and take you to the nearby MRT station, bus terminus or shopping mall. There is no need to worry about parking the vehicle as it will be used by another customer shortly.

Many electric vehicles are now being sold in China for US$6,000 or SGD 10,000. It will be economical to use these vehicles in an automaticated local taxi service.


  1. Very good idea, i think if it can have a dedicated lane or can share with the bus lane cause the slow speed of 30 might cause problems if it is at the outer lanes

  2. Dear James Noe
    I agree that it should use a dedicated lane. In some countries, this type of automated system use elevated guideways.

    As the electric cars are small (as compared to a train), the guideway can be narrow gauge, easier to install and not costly.

  3. Sound good in theory, but not trivial in practice. Off hand, I could see two main issues that need to be thoroughly investigated:

    1. infrastructure
    Cost of building the "dedicated lanes", stop areas, recharging stations, cost of vehicles, vehicle cleaning and servicing depots, etc.
    If the existing roads were to be adapted for this system, you need to rebuild the roads plus opportunity cost for existing vehicles (e.g. two lane traffic now becomes one, because one lane is reserved for the system).

    This just a short list, I am sure there are many more issues to be investigated.

    2. Automated navigation
    To my knowledge, current state of the art for automatic navigation is inadequate. General GPS is accurate to only a few metres, you need localised tracking for more accuracy required. In addition, you need to watch out for "messy" real life situations, if the vehicle is going to share a common space with normal people and road users. How to detect people crossing the road, and stop in time? At the traffic junction, how to know it's red, yellow or green. When it's green, it's not always safe to proceed immediately. You need to look out for people dashing across at the last minute, etc.

  4. Poster of 2:38 PM

    Of course, there are many issues to be tackled for this idea to take off.

    There is no need to be negative or to make judgement before you even start.

    All innovations and creations need to go through a lot of trials and experimentations.

    Be positive.

  5. There was an anonymous posting which I deleted. I do not want to engage in an argument on this matter.

    This person said that $20 million is not sufficient to introduce a system that uses a guide-rail. I did not imply that the $20 million will be used for such a system. I only asked that it be used to fund the research.

    I am aware that a system will cost a few hundred millions or more. An expert estimate that it will cost about half of a MRT system.

  6. Dear Mr Tan
    It's definitely your right to refuse a debate about the opinions expressed in your post. I think that a statement to that is more than sufficient.

    I respect and greatly applaud the good work you did for the common men. I subscribed to your blog and read your post because you were someone worth listening to.

    On the other hand, to deliberately delete a considerable long comment I made about the errors in your post because you are unable to admit your mistake... it reduced your credibility.

    You don't have to debate my point if you don't want to, just say it with one line reply. No need to delete comment and censor (if it's not spam).

  7. Hi 12:29 PM

    I do not publish any views that criticise or misinterpret the views of another person, while remaining anonymous. You can express your views without passing judgement on other people's views.

  8. So, first, I am being negative (ref: you comment July 5, 2009 10:32 AM). Now, I am being judgemental, quote: "criticise or misinterpret the views of another person, while remaining anonymous."

    Yes, it's true I remained anonymous. That's not the most important point.

    If you read my first comment, I think they were valid arguments to point out the practical problems in your proposal. You choose to read that negatively.

    Then, in my second comment (which you deleted), I made a couple of alternative proposals to the automated system you proposed in your post. I also disagree with your assertion that I am being negative. Instead, I said I was being realistic.

    You replied that your post was about spending $20 million for research into the automated vehicle system. But your original post did not in fact mention the word "research". Perhaps, you did not put your thoughts properly there. But, read verbatim, when I read your post, I immediately thought it as suggestion of "implementation", rather than "research into implementation".

    Anyway, This will be my final comment in your blog. I will still read your blog because you made a lot of good sense (well, almost always even if you can't take an occasional well meant criticism.) :)

    I know your work to fight for the ordinary people is hard enough without me making it harder by picking a useless fight with you. Keep up the good work.

  9. Hi
    You are right that I missed out the word "research".

    In my original posting, I intended to have a small system to operate on the roads, so part of the $20 million will be sufficient.

    The extenstion to the guide way was suggested by James Neo, but I am aware that it will cost more than $20 million.


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