Home Automotive Singapore launches world's first driverless taxi

Singapore launches world's first driverless taxi

Many countries and companies have been talking about driverless cars for a while, but tiny Singapore has stolen a march on the rest and announced that a driverless taxi has begun a public trial in a limited area of the city state.

The trial, of a robo-taxi from nuTonomy, a company that develops state-of-the-art software for self-driving cars, will run in the country's one-north business district.

nuTonomy says the trial, which will continue on an ongoing basis, was started on Thursday after daily autonomous vehicle testing since April.

Select residents can now use nuTonomy's ride-hailing app to book a free ride. The cars that are being tested are a Renault Zoe or Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicle that nuTonomy has specially configured for autonomous driving.

An engineer from nuTonomy will ride in the vehicle to observe system performance and assume control if needed, to ensure passenger comfort and safety.

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The company will collect data related to software system performance right through the trial. Vehicle routing efficiency, the booking process, and the overall passenger experience will also be monitored.

The data will be used to help nuTonomy prepare for the launch of a widely-available commercial robo-taxi service in Singapore in 2018.

nuTonomy is the first private company approved by Singapore to test autonomous vehicles on public roads.

Karl Iagnemma, chief executive and co-founder of nuTonomy, was quoted as saying in a media release: "nuTonomy’s first-in-the-world public trial is a direct reflection of the level of maturity that we have achieved with our AV software system. The trial represents an extraordinary opportunity to collect feedback from riders in a real-world setting, and this feedback will give nuTonomy a unique advantage as we work toward deployment of a self-driving vehicle fleet in 2018."

nuTonomy is also operating self-driving cars in Michigan and the United Kingdom, where it tests software in partnership with major automotive manufacturers such as Jaguar Land Rover.


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.