Hail A Ride To The Future
Head down to Singapore to hail a taxi that will chauffer you to your destination, without a driver behind the wheel! The first in the world, the self-driving taxi facility was spearheaded by the start-up nuTonomy, an independent vehicle software company.
The service, which is still in its trial stages, invited a select number of the public to participate in the on-going launch. Prospective passengers can use their smartphones to order a taxi with the app and enjoy a free ride within a 6.5 square kilometre radius of the one-north district. There are presently a limited number of pick-up and drop-off points which the public can choose from.
The fleet includes modified electric cars like the Renault Zoe and Mitsubishi i-MiEV. Each car has its own driver who watches the road, ready to take over if necessary, as well as a co-pilot and researcher who studies the computer systems of the car. A Lidar detection system fitted into each vehicle, acts like a radar by using lasers placed on the roof of the car. Two stationary cameras fixed onto the dashboard, are constantly scanning the road for obstacles and changes in traffic and signals.
The self-driving taxi service received rave reviews from customers, who said that it freed up a lot of time that they would have otherwise spent driving. Passengers also marveled at the smoothness of the ride and the ability of the car’s system to spot small birds and motorbikes even from a fair distance. However despite the numerous safety systems in place, the initial test run was not without its glitches. A reporter said that at one point of the journey, the driver had to step in and apply the brakes when a vehicle unexpectedly swerved into his car’s lane. Some passengers even said that the ride was jerky and that when attempting to overtake a vehicle, the car changed several lanes at once, rather than simply veering to the right lane and then back into the left.
Though nuTonomy has only six cars in its service currently, the company plans to have a fully functional fleet operating all over Singapore by the year 2018. Singapore currently faces massive issues of manpower as well as a lack of space. With this in mind, the start-up hopes to work together with the government and phase out the number of cars on the roads and ultimately drastically reduce congestion.
While several companies including Volvo, Google and Uber have been planning to launch similar services for a while now, nuTonomy is the first to open its fleet doors to the public.
Picture courtesy – wsj.net
by techtalks @TechTalks September 13, 2016 9:16 AM UTC