Uber beaten by Singapore’s NuTonomy in race to launch first drive-less taxi services

Self-driving cars and taxis are the buzz of the industry. A new trail at every step forward is that everyone is trying to grab the headlines.

The world’s first public trail of a self-driving car service has been officially launched by driverless vehicle software start-up namely NuTonomy in Singapore on 25th August. NuTonomy Company was founded by two MIT researchers specializing in self-driving vehicles and mobile robots. It has offices in US and Singapore and it is the first company in the world to offer public rides in driverless cars, beating out competition from its competitors like Uber but also outfits such as GM and Lyft, which also have the same aim.

Singapore-based riders will be able to request a NuTonomy taxi using their smartphones for free initially. The new taxi trail currently consists of six vehicles on the road at lunch. Each of them has a complex system of lasers that operate like radar to monitor the car’s surroundings. More cars will be rolled out in the next two years, according to an AP report.

NuTonomy is not a car manufacturer, these are not futuristic vehicles designed for a driver-less future. Similar to Uber’s Pittsburgh plan, NuTonomy’s cars, which have adapted Renault and Mistsubishi electrics that have been equipped with the company’s software and cameras.

There is a driver in the front, but the cars are doing the driving themselves, and the driver is only there to monitor the performance and as a backup in case something goes wrong. The vehicle is fitted with an array of sensors, several advanced dash cameras, and laser based radar system that helps to monitor traffic conditions. Driver-less taxis can reduce the traffic congestion problem.

The problem associated with driver-less taxis is that they cannot travel for long distances. For now, the taxi will run in a limited 2.6 sq mile area. Also, there are designated pick-up and drop-off spots so it is not possible to get on or outside the car at your convenience.

While many of companies around the world are investing heavily in developing their own driver-less car systems, NuTonomy also has local competition from Delphi, which aims to start testing a similar self-driving taxi services next year.

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