Future S'pore buses might have touchscreen windows & hands-free payment

A very smart bus.

Joshua Lee| October 22, 06:51 PM

A new concept bus was unveiled recently at the Intelligent Transport System World Congress 2019 and it is choked full of features that might change the way our public buses will look and function in the future.

Called the Smart Public Bus of the Future, it showcased features suggested by students in the Smart Bus Challenge organised by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in 2017.

The competition invited youths to rethink the way people use public transport.

Selected ideas were realised in this prototype by ST Engineering.

The bus prototype showcased at the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress 2019. Image by Joshua Lee.

Large LED screens on the side of the bus will be able to show the estimated arrival times at various stops on the bus route.

External screens show the estimated arrival time along various locations along the bus route. Image by Joshua Lee.

Inside, the bus is pretty spacious, thanks to configurable seats that can be folded up to create more space.

View of the bus interior from the front. Image by Joshua Lee.

View of the bus interior from the back. Image by Joshua Lee.

The bus interior. Courtesy of LTA.

Aisle seats come with armrests that can be folded up.

Aisle seats come with armrests. Image by Joshua Lee.

These priority seats, which are located near the back door, can be folded up when not in use.

Priority seats that can be folded up to create more space on buses. Image by Joshua Lee.

What is perhaps more exciting is the touchscreen window glass which can be used to display an interactive passenger information system.

The prototype showcased the route, places of interest, a map of the island.

During testing, the screen is pretty responsive and quite fun to use.

While this is pretty nifty, there is a drawback from using an LCD screen.

The content onscreen only shows in the daytime, when there is external light to light up the screen.

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Another cool feature in the smart bus is its hands-free payment.

Once commuters step into the bus, it will detect the commuter's payment card via RFID.

It will also detect when the commuter exits the bus.

This allows the commuter to board without the need to take out their cards.

Hands free system which detects payment cards via RFID. Image by Joshua Lee.

As part of the demonstration, ST Engineering staff in the bus were wearing RFID wristbands which were detected by the bus when they boarded.

Their unique ID number and time of boarding were logged into the system.

The system logs the user's card ID and time of boarding. Image by Joshua Lee.

There are still some kinks that need to be ironed out.

For example, commuters cannot board with more than one card otherwise he/ she will have multiple fare deductions.

The concept bus also boasts a new feature: swivel seats:

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These seats can swivel 180 degrees to face the front or back.

When more space is needed, the seat can be folded up and the backrest doubles up as a standing support.

These seats also have fold-out tables that come with USB charging ports and wireless charging spots.

The swivel seats have fold-out tables and USB charging ports. Image by Joshua Lee.

The tables are equipped with wireless charging functions. Image by Joshua Lee.

There are also features to ensure a safer ride for commuters.

This below is the Driver Anti-Fatigue and Facial Recognition System.

The camera in front of the steering wheel can recognise the driver's face.

If anyone aside from the driver tries to start the vehicle, it will not start.

These features help make a safer ride for commuters. Image by Joshua Lee.

The Anti-Fatigue system scans the driver's eyes.

When it detects that the driver's eyes are closed, the system will vibrate the driver's seat within two seconds.

Digital "wingless mirrors" replace conventional side-view mirrors, hence drivers do not need to worry about their external mirrors fogging up or getting wet.

This allows them to have continuous high-quality oversight of the sides of the buses.

Wingless mirrors take away the need for actual wing mirrors. Image by Joshua Lee.

A new bus lane violation system can identify cars that travel illegally on the bus lane, and even pick out their car plate number.

The Bus Lane Violation system. Image by Joshua Lee

As wonderful as this concept bus is, there are a number of issues, including cost, that need to be ironed out before it can become a reality.

But still, we hope that we can ride this smart public bus one day.

Top images by Joshua Lee.