nuTonomy: Self-Driving Taxis Debut In Singapore, Will It Expand To The West?

By Adie Pie , Aug 26, 2016 03:00 AM EDT

A small software startup called nuTonomy has made self-driving technology accessible to the Singaporean public. In order to do this, the company has put a few self-driving cars on the roads of Singapore, which clients can opt to ride in like a taxi service.

According to The Big Story, select individuals were given the opportunity to hail free rides on Thursday via a smartphone app. Right now the company is starting small, as only six vehicles that work within a 2.5 square mile radius. The district, called "one-north," is where individuals can arrange their drop-offs and pick-ups.

Though the area is still limited, nuTonomy plans to extend the range and number of vehicles before the year ends. Reportedly, nuTonomy has beat even Tesla in providing this service by some odd weeks.

The cars that are currently in use, which are modified Renault Zoe and Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric units, have a driver in the front as well as a researcher in the back. While the driver is there for safety reasons, the researcher's responsibility is to watch the set of computers.

All vehicles are fitted with six sets of Lidar, which is a detection system. There are also two cameras on the dashboard, which constantly scan for obstacles and are even able to detect changes in traffic lights.

nuTonomy's CEO, Karl Iagnemma, shared the company plans to eventually place the service in other countries around Asia, followed by the US and Europe. However, when this will happen is not exactly a pressure point for Iagnemma. "I don't expect there to be a time where we say, 'We've learned enough,'" he said.

The focus now, as noted by Computer World, is to master the process first. The current trial period is a means for the company to get feedback from clientele. Particularly, in the efficiency of the system - in booking and the routing process.

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