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Autonomous Taxis to Hit Singapore Streets

Posted May 04, 2016 10:14 AM by Jordan Perch
Pathfinder Tags: autonomous vehicles

One of the most common predictions when it comes to driverless vehicles is that they will first be used as fleets of autonomous taxis and some other forms of public transport, with private ownership expected to occur in the later stages of adoption.

Some ridesharing companies and several automakers already have specific plans for launching robotaxis once self-driving vehicles become commercially available, which is not likely to happen for at least another ten years, though. In the meantime, however, a new startup seems to be ready to start operating a fleet of autonomous taxis much sooner and beat traditional automakers and tech companies to the punch.

MIT Startup Developing Self-Driving Cars

An autonomous car startup called nuTonomy, that was created as a spinout company by researchers with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is set to launch a taxi service using fully-autonomous vehicles in the city-state of Singapore later this year.

NuTonomy has tested its driverless vehicles on an obstacle course simulating driving in an urban area, and is now waiting for an approval from the Singaporean government to start a pilot program in the One North business district, which residents would be able to use as an alternative to existing public transport options.

The company says that Singapore is an ideal place for such a pilot project, because of its busy streets and dense population.

"This could make car-sharing something that is almost as convenient as having your own private car, but with the accessibility and cost of public transit," says nuTonomy co-founder and chief technology officer Emilio Frazzoli, an MIT professor of aeronautical and astronautical engineering.

Electric Cars Using nuTonomy's Self-Driving Software

NuTonomy says that the cars it wants to deploy in Singapore have been built in collaboration with automakers and are operated by a self-driving system it has developed itself. All of them are electric vehicles, equipped with sophisticated software that allows them to choose the ideal route for picking up passengers and dropping them off, in order to reduce traffic congestion. The fact that they are electric means that they can help reduce carbon emissions, as well.

According to the company, this service will be cheaper than Uber and traditional taxis, because there is no driver who needs to be paid.

Competing with Silicon Valley Giants

NuTonomy's venture might not seem like a major threat to more prominent companies with similar plans involving autonomous taxi services, given that it's just a small startup that has yet to prove that it can compete with larger and wealthier players. But, the fact that nuTonomy is about to start operating a fleet of fully-autonomous vehicles on public roads puts them one step ahead of potential competitors, which include far more established tech companies like Google and Uber, along with electric-car maker Tesla, with all of them having expressed interest in entering the future driverless taxi industry.

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#1

Re: Autonomous Taxis to Hit Singapore Streets

05/04/2016 8:51 PM

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#2

Re: Autonomous Taxis to Hit Singapore Streets

05/05/2016 6:53 AM

Singapore would be an excellent first application as the City/Island/Country is self-contained, with only a causeway and ferries to Malaysia, which autotaxis would not be using.

There is a fail in the article though, to use a modern term. With autonomous vehicles, the concept of private ownership ceases to exist. All one does is use an App to dial in where one wants to go, and an auto-vehicle turns up and delivers one to that destination, billing the individual along the way.

Then money will disappear. Babies would only need a bar code etched onto their foreheads shortly after birth....

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Re: Autonomous Taxis to Hit Singapore Streets

05/05/2016 12:20 PM

Nothing so brutal, just a small implant....it will only hurt when your credit runs out....

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#4

Re: Autonomous Taxis to Hit Singapore Streets

05/05/2016 3:26 PM

So i see a bunch of taxis that look like this in the back seat because we all know how filthy people can be and no driver to mitigate their nastiness.

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Re: Autonomous Taxis to Hit Singapore Streets

05/08/2016 10:21 AM
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