Future deployment of the technology will pave the way for an innovative and transformed environmental services industry
JOINT NEWS RELEASE BETWEEN NEA AND MOT
Singapore, 14 January 2021 – The National Environment Agency (NEA) has launched proof-of-concept (POC) trials of two Autonomous Environmental Service Vehicles (AESVs) for road cleaning. The trials, which will run until July 2021, will be conducted in designated small-scale testbed environments at one-north, Nanyang Technological University, and CleanTech Park at Jurong Innovation District. The projects are part of NEA’s Environmental Robotics Programme and are in line with NEA’s continual efforts to better optimise resources, drive innovation, push technology adoption, and improve productivity across the Environmental Services (ES) industry 
2 The POC trials follow the award of Research & Development (R&D) projects for the design, development and trial of AESVs for road cleaning by NEA and Ministry of Transport (MOT) in March 2019 to two consortia: (i) Nanyang Technological University / Enway Pte Ltd / SembWaste Pte Ltd / Wong Fong Engineering Works (1988) Pte Ltd; and (ii) ST Engineering / 800 Super Waste Management Pte Ltd. The AESVs were developed with support from the National Robotics Programme (NRP)  and various public agencies (refer to Annex A for factsheets on the two AESV units).
3 The POC trials of the AESVs will be conducted in a progressive manner, starting with off-peak timings (i.e. weekends and evenings). Both AESV units have undergone rigorous safety assessments by the Land Transport Authority and have been approved for public road trials in small-scale testbed environments. In line with the safety framework for autonomous vehicle (AV) trials, the AESVs are required to have a safety driver on board at all times, who is trained to take immediate control of the vehicle when needed, in accordance to strict operational protocols. The operation of each AESV will be monitored in real-time from a command centre by an off-site operator cum cleaning professional, who can deploy the AESVs on different cleaning routes based on cleaning needs. For easy identification by other road users and in line with the AV safety framework, all AESV test vehicles will display prominent decals and markings (refer to Annex B for sample decal).
4 The application of AV technology to mechanical road sweepers will enable service providers to adopt more innovative technologies to raise the standards, productivity and professionalism of the ES industry. It will help foster an innovative ES industry equipped with a skilled and future-ready workforce, and create a more sustainable manpower stream by making these jobs more attractive to locals. The successful completion of the POC trials will pave the way for the pilot deployment of AESVs for road cleaning in the early 2020s.
5 Mr Patrick Pang, Chief Technology Officer of NEA, said, “The commencement of the Autonomous Environmental Service Vehicles road trials marks a key milestone in its R&D journey, which aims to augment manpower in the Environmental Services industry, particularly the cleaning sector. Such R&D work had started in 2019, bringing together academics and companies from various industries such as robotics, transportation, and environmental services, to jointly develop these vehicles. Successful trials will pave the way for downstream commercialisation and operationalisation. We look forward to greater innovations by the industry and together, we can push the frontiers of environmental technologies and solutions, and build a vibrant and sustainable Environmental Services industry.”
6 Mr Daryl Yeo, Director (Futures & Transformation) of MOT, said, “The pilot deployment of AESVs will help shift cleaning activities to off-peak hours such as late night hours and reduce road congestion. This demonstrates the strong potential of autonomous systems to make our transport network more efficient and future-ready.”
Transforming Cleaning Operations through Innovation and Technology
7 NEA has been working with industry partners to transform the ES industry through various initiatives. This includes implementing innovative technological tools that alleviate the manual workload of cleaners and increase their productivity. NEA also adopts outcome-based contracts, which place greater emphasis on the use of technology and automation when selecting service providers for awarding of cleaning contracts. Thus far, NEA’s cleaning service providers have implemented the use of pavement sweepers for cleaning parks and pavements, mechanical sweepers for the cleaning of roads and specialised truck mounted machines that desilt and flush underground drain pipes (refer to Annex C for examples of cleaning equipment).
8 NEA will continue to work with key stakeholders, including service buyers, to push for wider adoption of outcome-based contracting to improve productivity in the cleaning sector. This, in turn will spur service providers to invest and propose the use of technology and innovative solutions, as well as enhance processes that can improve productivity to meet the desired cleaning outcomes.
 The Environmental Robotics Programme was launched by NEA in December 2017 as part of the National Robotics R&D Programme. It focuses on the development of robotics solutions to: (i) Enable productivity gains; (ii) Enable sustainable manpower stream, and (iii) Enhance current capabilities and enable new ones.
 The NRP is a national level programme that nurtures the robotics ecosystem in Singapore through funding research and development, to enhance the readiness of robotics technologies and solutions. Key considerations for NRP’s R&D investments include potential for impactful applications in the public sector and potential to create differentiated capabilities for our industry.
 Outcome-based contracting, where a service buyer prescribes performance outcomes instead of headcount requirements, is an important contract mechanism to ensure that there is continuous strong interest to innovate and adopt new technologies by service providers.
~~ End ~~
For more information, please submit your enquiries electronically via the Online Feedback Form or myENV mobile application. Alternatively, you contact us at 6225 5632.
Factsheets on AESV Units
The AESVs are modified from existing mechanical sweepers with multiple sensors on all sides of the vehicles and computing units in the cabin.
(A) AESV unit jointly developed by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), Enway, SembWaste and Wong Fong
The AESV makes street sweeping sustainable and efficient in the following ways:
1) Zero carbon emission, less noise: The AESV is fully electric and has lower ambient noise output compared to conventional sweepers.
2) Improves productivity:
(i) Operations can be shifted to late nights/early mornings, avoiding rush hours and optimises road usage.
(ii) System allows for dynamic route planning and remote operation to ensure the AESV can handle all situations it encounters.
3) Precise cleaning: Ability to autonomously sweep along the kerb that allows for highly effective cleaning of heavy debris areas.
4) Safe: The AESV is cybersecure to guard against malicious attacks on its sensors and actuation systems.
5) Tested on the NTU Smart Campus: A living testbed of innovative digital and tech-enabled solutions, the NTU Smart Campus is home to the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous vehicles at NTU (CETRAN), where public road trials for the AESV will be conducted in small-scale testbed environments.
- 8 hours sweeping range and 2.5 hour charge time
- Equipped with 3D LiDAR sensors and cameras for localisation, kerb following and traffic navigation
- Sweeping speed of up to 12 km/hr
- Vacuum-based debris collection system
- Autonomous docking and hopper emptying
- Remote monitoring and route planning
- Cyber security functions
About the NTU-Enway-Sembcorp-Wong Fong Consortium
Ranked amongst the world’s top universities by QS, NTU Singapore has been named the world’s top young university for the past seven years. Under the NTU Smart Campus vision, the University harnesses the power of digital technology and tech-enabled solutions to support better learning and living experiences, the discovery of new knowledge, and the sustainability of resources. Principal Investigator Professor Wang Danwei from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering leads this AESV project and develops the novel technologies for off-site operations and robot cyber security solutions for the AESV project. Prof Wang is an expert on multi-modal sensing, perception, and autonomy of unmanned systems in unstructured environments.
Enway is a developer of autonomous software for heavy duty vehicles, focusing initially on the cleaning industry with its Blitz class autonomous industrial sweeper launched in September 2019. Enway combines know-how in engineering, robotics, machine learning, computer vision and artificial intelligence with operational expertise that is unique in the professional cleaning industry. As Co-Principal Investigator, Enway is developing the AESV’s navigation system and autonomous road sweeping functionality.
SembWaste is the waste management and recycling arm of Sembcorp Industries, a focused energy and urban company offering sustainable solutions. A leading environmental services company, SembWaste provides waste management, public cleaning and recycling services, and is the operational partner for the public trials of the AESVs.
Wong Fong is a trusted provider of land transportation engineering solutions and systems. For this project, they developed and manufactured the AESV’s field infrastructure including the docking station and waste compactor for autonomous dumping.
(B) AESV Unit – Jointly developed by ST Engineering and 800 Super
Designed and developed by ST Engineering in collaboration with 800 Super, the AESV performs pre-defined road cleaning operations from one designated location to another. It uses a commercial Dulevo 6000 Series sweeper vehicle platform integrated with Drive-By-Wire system and autonomous navigation capabilities based on LiDAR technology.
(i) Ability to completely eliminate fine particles compared to normal sweepers while saving up to 60% of water usage.
(ii) The unique mechanical filtering and suction system guarantees the total elimination of PM10 fine particles.
- Precise navigation and cleaning: Effective kerb detection capabilities allow the AESV to autonomously sweep along the kerb, allowing for highly effective cleaning.
- Safety: The platform is fitted with a suite of sensors that provides all-round obstacle detection that allows the AESV to sense its environment to navigate safely during sweeping operations, and when on the move. The AESV’s speed is automatically adjusted to maintain a safety distance between itself and external objects. Should an object enter its collision zone, the emergency brake will be activated to bring the AESV to a safe stop.
- Completed scenario-based public roads trials in one-north under light traffic conditions. A series of scenario-based tests were also conducted in a controlled circuit environment at NTU (CETRAN) before progressing to public road trials.
- Operating speeds:
- Manual mode: 40 km/h
- Autonomous mode: up to 15 km/h
- With sweeping mode: 10 km/h
- Equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS), 3D LiDAR sensors and front and rear cameras, for localisation, kerb following and traffic navigation.
- Localisation accuracy up to 5cm.
- Stopping distance within 6m based on the prevailing speed.
- Three emergency stop buttons located at the rear left and right of AESV, and next to the driver’s seat in the cabin.
- Autonomous cleaning function comprising left, right and centre brushes with water jets.
- 6000-litre waste container capacity; ability to operate in all locations including public roads.
- Unique mechanical suction filter system that enables highest proofed absorbing fine particles of PM10/PM5/PM2.5/PM1.
About the ST Engineering-800 Super Consortium
ST Engineering is a global technology, defence and engineering group with offices across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the U.S., serving customers in more than 100 countries. The Group uses technology and innovation to solve real-world problems and improve lives through its diverse portfolio of businesses across the aerospace, smart city, defence and public security segments.
ST Engineering has an established track record in autonomous systems development and deployment across diverse industry applications in Singapore and overseas. The AESV system is developed by its Logistics Automation business, which specialises in developing robotics and autonomous systems that enhance the efficiency and reliability of the transport, logistics, manufacturing, healthcare and hospitality industries.
800 Super is an established home-grown environmental services provider for the public and private sectors in Singapore. With a broad range of environmental solutions ranging from waste management and treatment, cleaning and conservancy services, and horticulture and landscaping services, 800 Super has been a front-runner in the environmental services industry since 1986. In 2019, the company further elevated its capabilities to cogenerate renewable energy and is the first and only carbon neutral industrial laundry and steam heating facility in Singapore. 800 Super has since commissioned and operates a self-sustaining integrated energy and resource recovery facility that houses a Biomass Plant, Sludge Treatment Plant, Industrial Laundry Plant, animal feed processing and a third-party ISO tank container steam heating facility. 800 Super’s comprehensive suite of environmental solutions and services includes:
- Public Waste Collection
- Industrial Commercial Waste
- Conservancy and Commercial Cleaning
- Integrated Public Cleaning
- Horticulture and Landscaping
- Industrial Laundry
- Industrial Dehydration Facility
- Industrial Steam Heating Facility
- Wood Waste and Plastic Recycling
- Pest Control and Treatment
Image of Decal Displayed on All AV Test Vehicles
Transforming Cleaning Operations through Innovation and Technology
The cleaning equipment are operated by trained machine operators who have undergone training in the operations and safe handling of the machines. The cleaners’ jobs have been redesigned in the process and made easier, safer and smarter, as they take on higher value-added tasks such as operating mechanised equipment. Cleaners also undergo upskilling to strengthen competencies to take on the redesigned job roles effectively.
- All mechanical sweeper vehicles are equipped with a Cleanliness Performance Monitoring System (GPS tracking system, cameras and sensors), which enables NEA officers to track the routes taken by the vehicles, and to monitor their cleaning performance by tracking the various cleaning functions of the vehicle.
- With these devices installed, officers would be able to determine whether the vehicle is travelling at the right speed for optimal sweeping, or whether the broom and water sprayers are switched on during cleaning hours, or whether the vehicle is at the right place for cleaning.
- If any of the cleaning thresholds have been breached, the system will generate alerts so that officers can immediately request the necessary rectifications from the cleaning service providers. The system also transmits video images in real-time to monitor the cleaning performance of these vehicles.
Specialised trucks that desilt and flush underground drain pipes
Note: Pictures were taken before COVID-19.