It was only last week when Uber announced that they would be allowing the public to take advantage of their new self-driving taxis in Pittsburgh before the end of the month leaving many vehicle experts shocked and excited at the prospect of the self-driving revolution happening much earlier than anticipated.
Incredibly, though - and in a pretty surprising move - a company that goes by the name of Nutonomy has just pipped Uber by rolling out their own electric self-driving taxis in Singapore and actually picking up their first real customers in the process. The rollout, which has begun in Singapore’s One-North business park, will allow riders to use Nutonomy’s app to order an electric Mitsubishi i-Miev or a Renault Zoe, with the fleet hopefully increasing to a dozen vehicles within the next few months. In case you are hesitant about being taxied around in one of Nutonomy’s self-driving vehicles the company is offering one incentive - the whole ride is completely free and, currently, the tests are open-ended with the company’s CEO stating that they “plan to keep offering rides as long as we continue to learn new things from the data.”
“The pilot is going to allow us to collect technical data, but equally importantly, it’s going to allow us to find out if people enjoy riding in driverless cars,” says Karl Iagnemma, Nutonomy’s CEO. “When people get into the car, some will love it, some will be indifferent and some won’t like it. But how many won’t like it– 3% of the ridership, or 30%? We want to know that number. And Uber wants to know that number, too”
As stated above, just like with Uber’s tests this is only a controlled experiment for now, with each car having their own safety driver behind the wheel in the case of an emergency. Experiment or not, this is currently the only place in the world where anybody can catch a ride from a self-driving vehicle on public roads. For those of you wondering who Nutonomy actually are - the company was founded in 2013 by ex-MIT engineers and has received funding from the likes of the Singapore government and Ford chairman Bill Ford. In conclusion, it seems the company is just as serious as Google or Uber when it comes to autonomous transport and want to make the most of its benefits. What do you think of all of this? Let us know in the comments below.