nuTonomy has beaten Uber to the roads by launching the first driverless taxis. The world’s first fleet of driverless taxis hit the roads in Singapore using the autonomous vehicle software.
The startup will offer a free ride to the particular members of the public. Meanwhile, Uber plans to launch the self-driving cars later this month in Pittsburgh. nuTonomy has initially launched a fleet of six driverless cars and intends to double the number of autonomous vehicles by the end of this year.
“For now, the taxis only will run in a 2.5-square-mile business and residential district called “one-north and riders must have an invitation from nuTonomy to use the service. The company says dozens have signed up for the launch, and it plans to expand that list to thousands of people within a few months.”
For now, the nuTonomy driverless taxis are not completely autonomous. The startup uses modified Renault Zie and Mitsubishi 1-MiEV. nuTonomy will have a driver in the taxis to take the wheel if necessary while a researcher will keep track of the various systems in the car from the back seat.
“Each car is fitted with six sets of Lidar—a detection system that uses lasers to operate like radar—including one that constantly spins on the roof. There are also two cameras on the dashboard to scan for obstacles and detect changes in traffic lights.”
nuTonomy’s COO, Doug Parker speculates that the driverless taxis will help to reduce traffic congestion by reducing the number of cars to 300,000 from the 900,000 cars on the Singapore roads.
“When you are able to take that many cars off the road, it creates a lot of possibilities. You can create smaller roads, you can create much smaller car parks, I think it will change how people interact with the city going forward.”
nuTonomy hopes to launch a fully-autonomous, driverless taxi fleet by 2018.