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Singapore wants self-driving cars to help its aging society

1 March 2019

Made by startup MooVita, the MooAV is one of dozens of autonomous vehicles being put to the test at a special center in Singapore that aims to advance the development of self-driving car technology.

Startups from around the world are coming to the purpose-built track that recreates an urban environment over 5 acres at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University. The roads look like any other in the city, with stop lights, crosswalks and traffic signs. There's even a rain simulator.

It's all part of an effort to test how autonomous vehicles cope with all those elements.

Dillip Limbu, MooVita's CEO, said the quirky design of the company's car, the MooAV, is intentional:

"In order for the public to know that this is different to conventional cars, it needs to be noticeably different on first impressions, and stand out in comparison to other cars," he told CNN.

Projects like Nanyang's test track have helped Singapore become a hub for the development of self-driving vehicles. That role fits with the city-state's broader push to encourage the growth of its tech sector and tackle some of the challenges it faces at the same time.

"Singapore is aging more rapidly and at a faster rate than anywhere else in the world, and so we have a situation where, in order to provide mobility for seniors, it would be really advantageous to have such technology available," said Subodh Mhaisalkar, the professor in charge of Nanyang's Energy Research Institute, which carries out autonomous vehicle research.

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