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NTU President speech at the Official Launch of the Continental-NTU Corporate Laboratory

Welcome remarks by
Professor Subra Suresh 
President & Distinguished University Professor 
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 

Official Launch of the Continental-NTU Corporate Laboratory 

Research Techno Plaza, Foyer 
Friday, 9 April 2021, 3.30pm 
Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Transport 
German Ambassador to Singapore, Dr Norbert Riedel, 
Dr Karsten Michels, Head of Research & Advanced Engineering of Continental, 
Mr Lo Kien Fo, President & CEO of Continental Singapore, 

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, 
Good afternoon, and welcome to NTU. 

Need for smart mobility 

Urban mobility is one of the most intractable challenges faced by developed cities globally, especially those that are at a tipping point where additional supply will no longer provide an efficient means to service demand.  

Smart solutions can help cities tap under-utilised capacity in existing infrastructure, improve the efficiency of the system, and redistribute demand across modes, routes, and time.  

Singapore has been looking into such solutions under its Smart Nation initiative, which aims to use digital technologies to enhance comfort, convenience, and reliability of our public transport systems, and support the vision of a car-lite Singapore. Several trials are ongoing to gain insights on how technology can be deployed to strengthen intra-town connectivity, and enhance mobility for commuters, particularly the elderly and persons with disabilities. 

Some of these trials are happening right here in NTU. We are home to CETRAN, the Centre of Excellence for Testing & Research of AVs at NTU. This Centre spearheads the development of testing requirements for self-driving vehicles. On CETRAN’s 1.8-ha Test Circuit, jointly developed by LTA and JTC to provide industry partners with simulated road environments, we have tested several autonomous vehicles, including the world’s first 12-metre fully electric autonomous bus launched by NTU and Volvo.  
This is all part of NTU’s Smart Campus vision, where we harness the power of digital and advanced technologies to improve the way people live, work and play.  

Launch of Continental-NTU Corporate Laboratory 

I am therefore very pleased to participate in the launch of the Continental-NTU Corporate Laboratory today. This partnership between NTU and Continental, a German multinational automotive parts manufacturing company, aims to accelerate innovation in Singapore’s automotive industry, and translate research outcomes into practical and viable urban mobility solutions for the future.  

In this Corporate Lab, NTU and Continental will pool their best minds in autonomous robotics, navigation, artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, smart materials, sensing, and communication technologies to develop real-world applications that leverage data and digital technologies to enhance transportation not just for people but for goods. This will use sensors and AI (artificial intelligence) to run a smart, green, and liveable city. 

Over the next five years, this Corporate Lab will work on 16 industry-focused projects under three research thrusts:  

  • Smart robotics and navigation technologies to enable last mile delivery in an urban environment under different weather conditions;
  • AI and software engineering to enhance automotive software development and security testing as well as more human-like interaction tools for the vehicle users; and
  • Leveraging innovative materials and communication technologies to develop advanced sensors, touch-responsive interfaces, and connectivity solutions to enhance the safety and comfort of vehicle users.

NTU’s unique intellectual assets will feed heavily into the work of this corporate lab. As you may know, two of the areas that make up this corporate lab – materials science and environmental science – are areas where independent engineers from abroad have placed NTU at the very top of their global indicators. Similarly, our College of Engineering, which is home to many of these activities, is also, by many metrics, viewed as one of the top five in the world.  

These 16 projects will draw on the expertise of faculty members and scientists from NTU’s engineering college and also from the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, and a number of research centres at NTU, such as ERI@N (Energy Research Institute @ NTU), CETRAN, the NTU Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity. It also draws on Continental’s wealth of industrial experience to generate game-changing solutions that can be translated into actual products or services for Continental’s customers.  
This ties in nicely with our recently launched NTU 2025 plan. It’s a strategic plan which supports high-impact interdisciplinary research to address global grand challenges, and to create mechanisms that accelerate the translation of research discoveries into innovation. 
These solutions will be trialled and test-bedded in and around the NTU Smart Campus. We take great pride in nurturing partnerships with industry because it not only ensures that our research remains industry relevant, but also practical and beneficial to society.  
I am pleased to note that the Continental-NTU team has already embarked on a project with the JTC Corporation and the Land Transport Authority on a new autonomous last mile delivery service trial at the JTC Summit precinct. This exciting collaboration will see Continental’s robot, the Corriere, navigate traffic junctions and take lifts autonomously to offer this last mile delivery.  

While we are focused on translating research outcomes into real-world applications, we must not forget our role as a university to educate, inform, and nurture the next generation of talents. To this end, the Continental-NTU Corporate Lab is committed to the training and upgrading the skills of more than 90 full-time researchers from both NTU and Continental, as well as more than 80 NTU undergraduate and postgraduate students.  


I would take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Minister Ong Ye Kung and Dr Norbert Riedel for taking time to be Guest-of-Honour at today’s event. 

My sincere thanks to all the Continental R&D staff and NTU faculty members – especially Professor Guan Yong Liang of NTU and Dr David Woon of Continental ― and members of the leadership team for your tremendous contributions leading up to today’s milestone event.  

Like many of you, I very much look forward to watching the success of this collaboration and also all the exciting contributions that will emerge from this, both from a technological perspective and also from the perspective of societal needs. 
Thank you.