SINGAPORE – the planet’s first self-driving taxi service just launched in Singapore. Selected passengers started hailing free rides Thursday through their mobile phones in taxi service operated by nuTonomy, a self-driving vehicle startup. It beat around from Uber service, which plans to offer rides in independent vehicles in Pittsburgh, by a couple weeks. The service is beginning little – six vehicles now, growing to a dozen by the end of the year. The ultimate objective, say nuTonomy authorities, is to possess a completely self driving taxi cab fleet in Singapore by 2018, that will help aggressively cut the number of vehicles on Singapore’s congested roads.
Finally, the model might be adopted in cities around the globe, nuTonomy says. Passengers should have an invitation from nuTonomy to use the service. The vehicles – changed Renault Zoe along with Mitsubishi i MiEV electrics – possess a driver in the front who’s prepared to take back the wheel along with a researcher in back who sees the vehicle’s computers. Each car is equipped with six sets of Lidar – a discovery system that uses lasers to run like radar – including the one that continuously spins on the roof. The testing time frame is open ended, said nuTonomy Chief executive officer Karl Iagnemma.
Eventually, passengers might start investing in the service, and more pick-up and fall off items may be added. NuTonomy is also working on testing comparable taxi cab services in other Asian cities and also in the U.S. And Europe, but he would not say when. Doug Parker, nuTonomy chief operating officer, said independent taxicab could ultimately reduce the number of vehicles on Singapore’s roads from 900, 000 to 300, 000. When you’re able to take that many vehicles off the road, it creates a lot of possibilities. You may create smaller roads, you may create much smaller vehicle parks, Parker said.
NuTonomy, a 50 person company with headquarters in Massachusetts along with Singapore, was formed in 2013 by Iagnemma along with Emilio Frazzoli, MIT researchers have been learning robotics and developing independent cars for the Defense Department. Earlier this year, the company was the first to win acceptance from Singapore government to test self driving vehicles in one north. NuTonomy introduced an investigation relationship with Singapore’s Land Transport Authority earlier this month. Singapore is ideal because it’s good climate, excellent structure along with drivers who tend to obey traffic regulations, Iagnemma says.