Singapore – The new software company which started its operation in Singapore for its ever world’s first public driverless taxis considering widening its operation into different cities across Asia by 2020. It also expects to spread its operations within the boundaries of US and probably Europe.
The chief operating officer of the company said the firm is expecting more tests by early next year in three other Asian countries.He however said, the further announcement will be made to confirm the exact location of the test operation in the near future.
The company last week kicked off the world’s first driverless taxi service in a limited trial for invited people in a Singapore research campus.Parker, 41,[ COO] said nuTonomy [the founder] was also considering trials in the Middle East, the United States and Britain.
Quite a significant number of people in Singapore have already experienced a ride in the “new technological-taxi” within the confines of one-north, an enclave of technology and science research institutes outside the central business district.
“Needless to say, I think people are super fascinated that the car is driving itself. I would say they start apprehensive and scared but by the second block they start to enjoy it,” Parker said.
The current test car — a modified Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicle — plies a 2.5 square mile (4.0 square km) area with set pick-up and drop off points. Trips must be booked through the company’s smartphone app and are currently by invitation only.
Five other test cars — Renault Zoes — will be added to the fleet next month.
Data from the experiment will feed into the rollout of driverless taxis across Singapore in 2018, said Parker, adding that by 2020 “we would like to be in 10 cities in Asia, the United States and maybe Europe”. He also said a number of real-estate developers from Asia and the United States have contacted the company “about how they can use autonomous cars in their eco-friendly communities”.
The Perka [COO] confirmed that the vehicle, equipped with sophisticated laser, radar and cameras, has so far experienced navigating among buses, slowing down at pedestrian lanes and adjusting to unplanned street scenes.
“One day we pulled out of here and literally five buses of schoolchildren pulled up on this very narrow street. And the buses were trading positions,” he said “We’ve seen forklifts, we’ve seen people with wheelbarrows just right here on this one street.”Parker said with a smile that nuTonomy chose Singapore for the public tests rather than Silicon Valley because of the presence of a “loyal technical talent” — including people with doctorates in robotics — whom it does not have to share with other companies like Ford and Apple.
The company’s progress has also been marked by its full support of the Singapore government and the city-state’s flat terrain, well-marked roads and disciplined drivers make it well suited for driverless cars, Parker said.
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