With Singapore’s population growing by 30% in every 20 years, the country is working hard to reduce congestion and pollution and promote public transport. While Google, Uber and Tesla are all in the processes of brining autonomous taxis/vehicles to cities in the US, nuTonomy aims to lead this race - by starting now in Singapore.
nuTonomy was co-founded by Dr. Karl Iagnemma and Emilio Frazzoli. Dr. Iagnemma (CEO) did his PhD from MIT in 2001, while Frazzoli (CTO) is an MIT professor of aeronautical and astronautical engineering. The company started in 2013, and in May 2016 they raised $16 million in funding. nuTonomy also partnered with Jaguar Land Rover to test their autonomous driving technology in UK and Michigan, in addition to Singapore.
While the company has been testing their technology privately since April in Singapore, they have now started public testing their technology, making them the first driverless taxi provider in the world! In order to do this, nuTonomy partnered with Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA) for R&D. For now, they are the only company allowed to run Autonomous Vehicles in the country.
The process of hiring a nuTonomy taxi is simple - you can call a taxi using an app, and the car (which is a Renault Zoe or Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicle) will arrive to pick you up. The car will drive itself, although there is an engineer who will monitor the car’s activities and take control in case the autonomous system fails.
Recording software performance data, vehicle routing efficiency, booking process and customer experience is all a part of improving nuTonomy’s services, and is their gameplan to perfect the service before launching a full-fledged fleet of autonomous taxis in 2018.
nuTonomy is indeed getting a headstart in the upcoming autonomous taxi business. But the question is, will it be able to compete with the fleet of autonomous Uber, Tesla and Google cars/taxis? Uber is starting testing of it’s autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh as early as this month, after buying Otto (a startup developing autonomous systems for trucks).
Either ways, we are dwelling into the driverless revolution. With smart interconnected cars, we will be driven on safer streets, saving energy and resources. And nuTonomy will be another step towards this revolution!
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