Innovation That Matters

Robo taxi startup pips Uber to the post

Mobility & Transport

US based innovation, nuTonomy, launches the first fleet of driverless taxis, now trialing in Singapore.

Driverless cars have left science-fiction and arrived on our roads. We recently wrote about a company offering driverless car insurance and a retrofit kit that turns traditional 18-wheel commercial trucks into smart driverless vehicles. Uber has announced it’s been testing driverless cars in Pittsburgh. Relatively unknown startup, nuTonomy, appears, however, to have beaten Uber to the draw and launched the first fleet of driverless cars offering a service to the public. The nuTonomy trial is taking place in Singapore’s ‘One-North’ district.

The company’s aim is to curb congestion, reducing the number of cars on the roads in Singapore by one third. The so-called ‘robo-taxi service’ is not yet fully driverless, however. Each car will include an engineer who will observe how the technology performs and will take control if needed. CEO and co-founder of nuTonomy, Karl Iagnemma, said “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.”

Partners of the innovations include the Singapore Economic Development Board, who formed part of a panel of high-profile backers earlier on this year in May. The company is also working with Jaguar and Land Rover to run trials in Michigan and London, respectively.

nuTonomy plans to launch a fully-autonomous “robo” taxi service by 2018. Given the concerns around hacking and the recent fatal road accident involving a driverless car, will this be sufficient time to reassure customers that driverless cars are a safe and practical option?



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