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Driverless Taxis Taking over Singapore

Driverless Taxis Taking over SingaporeDriverless Taxis Taking over Singapore

Autonomous vehicle software startup nuTonomy has made rides on its self-driving taxis available to the general public in Singapore for free, expanding a first-in-the world run that was initially invitation-only.

While multiple companies, including Google and Volvo, have been testing self-driving cars on public roads for several years, nuTonomy announced in August that it was the first to offer autonomous taxi rides. It beat Uber, which started offering rides in autonomous cars in Pittsburgh last week.

The Singapore trial was limited to a 6.5 sq km business and residential district called “one north.” NuTonomy CEO Karl Lagnemma said Friday that the test area has since been doubled by the government. The approved route does not include any highways.

NuTonomy, a spinoff from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also stated that the public can now book self-driving taxis through an app by Grab, the biggest ride-hailing company in Southeast Asia. The two companies announced a year-long partnership.

To book a ride, passengers will have to select the ‘robo-car’ option on Grab’s app, which has been downloaded more than 20 million times. Passengers have to be older than 18, book in advance and sign a liability waiver. Rides will be free for at least two months.

“We will be combining nuTonomy’s self-driving car software with Grab’s app, with their proven fleet routing technology and their mapping capabilities,” said Lagnemma.

The cars — modified Renault Zoe and Mitsubishi i-MiEV electrics — have a safety driver in front who is prepared to take the wheel and a researcher in back who watches the car’s computers.

The company expects its six-car fleet to grow to a dozen by the end of the year. It plans to make its Singapore taxi fleet fully self-driving by 2018.

 

Financialtribune.com