Well, that was fast. After a couple months of covering the startup, nuTonomy has officially launched its fleet of self-driving taxis in Singapore. The public trial, announced today by the startup, will offer residents of Singapore’s one-north district a no-cost ride in a nuTonomy self-driving taxi.
Like Uber, customers will summon the self-driving taxis via a smartphone app. That’s assuming there’s an available self-driving taxi in nuTonomy’s fleet, and we’re not sure how many they’ve got. nuTonomy’s self-driving fleet consists of cars from automakers souped up with custom software and special hardware. The rides offered in Singapore will be provided in a Renault Zoe or Mitsubishi i-MiEV, equipped with the software and hardware capable of handling autonomous driving. In addition, there’s a shiny nuTonomy decal slapped on the vehicle’s side to let anyone know you’re riding in a nuTonomy.
The public trial rides aren’t fully-autonomous or SAE Level 4. A nuTonomy engineer will ride in the driver’s seat at all times to take control if need be. Furthermore, they’ll take notes and observe performance for the nuTonomy folks to analyze.
Karl Iagnemma, nuTonomy CEO, said “nuTonomy’s first-in-the-world public trial is a direct reflection of the level of maturity that we have achieved with our AV software system. The trial represents an extraordinary opportunity to collect feedback from riders in a real-world setting, and this feedback will give nuTonomy a unique advantage as we work toward deployment of a self-driving vehicle fleet in 2018.”
Yeah, you read right. nuTonomy plans for its self-driving taxis to hit the road commercially by 2018. What began as an MIT spinoff has already secured million-dollar funding rounds, government approval, and, now, public trials.
Not a resident of Singapore? Uber’s got self-driving rides coming to Pittsburgh.