No more prototype, no more test-runs, world’s first self-driving taxis have now hit the streets and began picking up passengers in Singapore from Thursday.
Select members of the public can hail a free ride through their smartphones in taxis operated by nuTonomy, an autonomous vehicle software startup.
While companies like Google and Volvo have been still working on the test-runs of their self-driving cars, nuTonomy claims to be the first to take rides to the public.
nuTonomy has beat ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc. by mere days to public road tests of a technology that could revolutionize the transport industry. It started with six cars and hopes to end the year with 12 cars on road. The goal is to launch a fleet of fully self-driving cars in Singapore by 2018.
For now, the taxis only run in a 6.5-sq. km business and residential district called “one-north”, and pick-ups and drop-offs are limited to specified locations. Riders must have an invitation from nuTonomy to use the service. The company says dozens have signed up for the launch, and it plans to expand that list to thousands of people within a few months.