SINGAPORE: China’s WeRide announced earlier this week that it has obtained licenses for testing its Robobus on Singapore’s public roads, including in areas such as One North and the National University of Singapore.

WeRide, an autonomous driving technology firm, said on Monday (Dec 11) that it had received its M1 and T1 Licenses from the Land Transport Authority (LTA). “With this achievement, WeRide becomes the first and, to date, the only technology company globally to simultaneously hold autonomous driving permits in China, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and Singapore,” the company noted in its announcement.

WeRide also noted that it had successfully obtained the licenses within a short span of three months after Robots arrived at the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous Vehicles (CETRAN) in Singapore on Aug 28, setting the record for how quickly the licenses were obtained.

The M1 license is the Milestone Testing Regime Level 1 License for Autonomous Vehicles (AV) on Public Roads and the T1 Assessment License for AVs on Public Paths. They allow WeRide’s Robobus to conduct testing on a larger scale.

In October, the company signed strategic cooperation agreements with Woodlands Transport Services and EZ Buzz.

In 2019, several companies responded to the LTA and the Economic Development Board (EDB) call to collaborate on deploying driverless shuttles and buses.

At that point, a number of companies had already been conducting trials on riderless vehicles, including local transport firm ComfortDelGro and French start-up EasyMile. They had been operating a pilot service at the NUS campus. Meanwhile, ST Engineering had been running a similar trial service in Sentosa.

ST Engineering had previously signed a memorandum of agreement with BYD, a Chinese company that makes electric vehicles, to develop platforms for driverless buses in March 2019. It had already worked in the past with BYD with the development of the Strobo range of riderless platforms that handle equipment like pallet trucks and forklifts.

“The autonomous vehicles will greatly enhance the accessibility and connectivity of our public transport system, particularly for the elderly, families with young children and the less mobile. Our land transport constraints may help us become a global player in urban mobility solutions. What works here is likely to also work in other cities,” noted then Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

In 2021, a new trial for self-driving buses was launched, conducted by ST Engineering, SMRT and SBS Transit.

Read related: Singapore launches self-driving bus trials /TISG