Self-driving cars on Singapore streets. (Photo : Youtube/CNNMoney)
Are you ready to enjoy a free ride on world's first self-driving taxis that kicked off in Singapore on Thursday?
The island city-state off southern Malaysia has commenced the trial session for the self-driving taxis to find out if the vehicles are fit to run on roadways. As the vehicles are in their trial period, they are not really driverless as of now. There will be an operator on the front seat to examine the way the taxis operate. The drivers are monitors of the performance of the taxis ready to handle the situation if anything goes wrong.
No big name is associated with the manufacture of the self-driving cars. Autonomous vehicle software startup nuTonomy has come with the best use of the technological advancement in the automobile industry. It is the first automobile company that received the grant from the Singapore government to operate the self-driving taxi in a small region of the island nation. After the proper examination of the system of the taxis, the company has launched it on the roads to carry passengers for the first time.
nuTonomy has started the operation of self-driving taxis with mere six cars now and is expected to reach almost 12 by the end of 2016. BBC reported that the modified Renault Zoe and Mitsubishi's i-MiEV electrics, running as self-driving sedans on Singaporean roadways, also have a researcher sitting on the back seat to observe the loopholes if any. Every car has six sets of Lidar attached to it. Lidar is a detection system, which uses lasers like radar to function. The cars have twin cameras located on the dashboard. They are there to scan the speed breakers and signals on the road.
As of the trial phase, the self-driving taxis are allowed to run only in a 2.5 square-mile business restricted to a residential district known as "one-north." The pick and drop services for the passengers are limited to certain locations only during the trial phase. To make sure you are the chosen passenger for a free ride on self-driving taxis, passengers must have an invitation from nuTonomy. Until now, there have been several people who signed up for the trial launch to enjoy the free ride and the company is believed to expand the list to thousands more in the coming months.
Big Story mentioned that renowned companies like Google and Volvo have been trying to test self-driving cars for several years, but nuTonomy claims to the first company to offer such technically-driven ride to general public.
nuTonomy was founded by twin MIT researchers specialized in robotics and driverless technology in 2013. The company has its offices based in the United States and Singapore.
Wonder how a self-driving taxi works. You can watch it here.