25 August 2016, Singapore :
Massachusetts-based NuTonomy, an automotive software startup funded in part by Bill Ford’s Fontinalis Partners, claimed Thursday to be the first to offer an autonomous taxi service in Singapore.
Developer NuTonomy invited a select group of people to download their app and ride for free in its “robo-taxi” in a western Singapore hi-tech business district, hoping to get feedback ahead of a planned dull launch of the service in 2018.
“This is really a moment in history that’s going to change how cities are built, how we really look at our surroundings,” NuTonomy executive Doug Parker said.
The trials on the smartphone app-based service follows an agreement earlier this month between NuTonomy, a startup set up by two former MIT experts in the areas of robotics and intelligent vehicle technology, and Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) to begin trials of an autonomous mobility-on-demand transportation service.
NuTonomy said its new “robo-taxi” service, which will include specially configured Renault Zoe or Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicles, will run on an on-going basis within Singapore’s one-north business district, where the company has been conducting daily autonomous vehicle testing since April.
The vehicles will be fully autonomous but an engineer from the company will ride in the vehicle both to monitor its performance and to also take over control if required at some point for safety or other reasons.
It will also be collecting and evaluating information about system performance, the efficiency of the vehicle booking and routing process, and the overall experience of the passenger, it said.
NuTonomy is one of several companies racing to launch self-driving vehicles, with automakers and technology firms striking new alliances.