Starting today, select members of the public will be able to participate in the world’s first-ever public trial for autonomous taxis. The testing period will be ongoing and be held in the One-North business district (the area considered to be Singapore’s startup hub).
For the launch, US-based nuTonomy, a driverless vehicle R&D firm, has partnered with (and been financed by) EDBI, the corporate investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board.
The limited launch is meant to help the nuTonomy gather data.
“The trial represents an extraordinary opportunity to collect feedback from riders in a real-world setting, and this feedback will give nuTonomy a unique advantage as we work toward deployment of a self-driving vehicle fleet in 2018,” said nuTonomy CEO Karl Iagnemma in a statement.
Select Singapore residents will be invited to book a taxi (for free) through nuTonomy’s ride-hailing app. Riders will be joined by an engineer who will monitor the system as well as the passenger’s safety and comfort.
According to the Associated Press, when a reporter went on a test drive, the ‘driver’ had to apply the brakes once when one car obstructed vehicles path and another car (appearing to be parked) began to move into the lane.
For car geeks, the rides will be provided in a Renault Zoe (a hatchback) and a Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric four-door. The two models have been integrated with nuTonomy’s autonomous technology.
Earlier this month, nuTonomy partnered up with the Land Transit Authority to support autonomous vehicle development in Singapore.
It is the only private company allowed to test and develop the technology in the city.