Self-Driving Taxis Are Now Up and Running in Singapore
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Earlier this year, Uber started testing a self-driving car in Pittsburgh. But a new company has officially first claimed the title of the first network of self-driving cars that’s in use. nuTonomy is the name of the Singapore- and Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company, and it has been testing its self-driving taxis in Singapore’s business district called 1 North since April. nuTonomy plans to have a full fleet (at least 1,000) of its self-driving vehicles for its ride-hailing service in Singapore by 2018.
nuTonomy is hoping to collect information from test rides to improve the service. Right now, select noTonomy users will be able to hail a ride from the company’s app — the same general idea as Uber and other ridesharing services. A nuTonomy car will then pick them up in either a Renault Zoe or a Mitsubishi i-MiEV — both of which are retrofitted with the self-driving technology. Because it’s still in its testing phase, a nuTonomy engineer will stay in the car to monitor the system and take over control of the car if anything happens.
The difference between nuTonomy and Uber’s self-driving product is that the former is autonomous and the latter is semi-autonomous. Semi-autonomous means that a human must still be engaged in the driver’s seat. Fully autonomous cars are those that are considered to be fully self-driving and don’t require a human behind the wheel. But, perhaps while nuTonomy’s autonomous car is still in the testing phase, it’s best that a person stays behind the wheel.
What do you think of the self-driving car? Are you likely to try it out if it becomes widely available?