nuTonomy Self Driving Taxi Roll Out First Trial in Singapore
Like Uber’s upcoming rides, this is a controlled experiment with a safety driver behind the wheel and a limited service area. Nevertheless, it is the first time anywhere in the world that anyone will be able to hitch a lift from a robotic vehicle on public roads. The company will not be charging for the rides.
“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 Self Driving’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.”
Like Uber and Google, nuTonomy Self Driving is convinced that the real benefits of autonomous technology will only be realised when humans never have to touch a steering wheel or brake pedal.
“Introducing a human operator in the loop brings an enormous amount of complexity and unpredictability,” says Iagnemma. “These ‘simpler’ systems [like Tesla’s Autopilot] are in fact harder to develop and harder to guarantee their safety than [fully autonomous] cars.”
The trials in the high-tech One-North business park are open-ended, says Iagnemma: “We plan to keep offering rides as long as we continue to learn new things from the data.”