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Researchers: Driverless Scooter Provides Safe and Easy Ride


Professor Marcelo Ang, with the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the National University of Singapore, leads the driverless scooter project. (Courtesy: National University of Singapore)

Professor Marcelo Ang, with the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the National University of Singapore, leads the driverless scooter project. (Courtesy: National University of Singapore)

Driverless technology is quickly progressing, with many cars being tested on roads around the world.

Now, researchers in Singapore are testing a different kind of self-driving vehicle - a scooter.

The scooter has four wheels and a single seat. It can move at speeds of up to six kilometers an hour. It is equipped with sensors to help it avoid people and objects.

The scooter was developed at the National University of Singapore. Researchers with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) also took part in the project.

This experimental vehicle was designed for people who cannot, should not or do not want to drive a car. It could help older adults, the disabled or people who are too young to drive.

The scooter can be used outside or inside buildings.

Marcelo Ang is with the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the National University of Singapore. He says the scooter can be especially useful for people who use wireless devices while walking on city streets.

“I'm sure you have experienced people, just using their handphone while walking, and almost running into you. Would be so nice if you are just sitting down and checking your emails, and doing some things.”

Ang demonstrated the technology and said the scooter has completed many successful tests at the university. He said the first model was built with “off-the-shelf” materials that did not cost a lot of money.

The researchers hope the scooter will decrease the need for automobiles, which can lower pollution and reduce accidents.

Earlier this year, Singapore became one of the first cities in the world to launch driverless taxi service. Developers of the scooter say it can work together with ride-sharing services to make trips completely seamless.

Kevin Xiangyu Hui, a university student, tested the scooter and said he found the ride was very smooth and safe.

“When you sit on this machine, you feel really relaxed and it’s really cool.”

The scooter has yet to complete a series of road tests so it is not available to buy… yet.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for Learning English. His story was based on reports from VOANews.com and Reuters. George Grow was the editor.

How do you feel about driverless technology? Would you be willing to give this scooter a try? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

scooter – n. small vehicle with a motor used for transportation

sensor n. a device that can sense light, heat, sound, motion and provide information about it

off-the-shelf - adj. available from existing materials

seamless - adj. moving from one thing to another easily and without problems

relaxed - adj. feeling satisfied and comfortable

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