The first driver-less taxis in the world were launched on 25th August in Singapore. They were created by the company nuTonomy and can now be used in a restricted area of the city.
In recent years, several companies, including Google have tested autonomous cars on public roads, but nuTonomy claims it will be the first to offer such a service to the public. The company aims to beat Uber to the mark, which plans to offer autonomous vehicles to travelers in Pittsburgh soon.
“Quite frankly I think Uber is the Goliath and we need to show that our technology is working and getting to a level of maturity that is viable for the marketplace,” Doug Parker, chief operating officer of nuTonomy, said in an interview. “We’re in a technology race here and I think there are going to be a handful of winners.”
The special taxi service starts with six cars, but will reach twelve by the end of the year. The company intends to have a large fleet of autonomous taxis by 2018. For now, driver-less taxis will operate in a residential and business area of about 6.5 square kilometers, and customers will have to have an invitation from nuTonomy in order to be allowed to use the service.
Pang Kin Keong, Singapore’s transport secretary, who heads a government committee on autonomous driving, said: “We face constraints in land and manpower. We want to take advantage of self-driving technology to overcome such constraints, and in particular to introduce new mobility concepts which could bring about transformational improvements to public transport in Singapore.”
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