nuTonomy employs self-driving taxis in Singapore
Self-driving vehicles are hardly a new concept, but nuTonomy — an autonomous vehicle company created at MIT and based in Singapore and Massachusetts — has taken the ambitious industry to a new level by installing an entire self-driving fleet of taxis in Singapore.
Pedal to the metal
While this isn’t the first real-world autonomous vehicle test—Uber, Google, and Mercedes have all dipped their toes in the metaphorical water here—it may be the most hands-on one. This endeavor has the potential to show exactly how self-driving car technology can navigate and respond to changing city environments; additionally, having actual humans with an objective in mind (e.g., getting to work on time) adds an applicable context that previous tests haven’t quite had.
This field test provides nuTonomy with the opportunity to gauge factors other than safety, as well. Customer satisfaction based on the self-driving technology itself, overall functionality (not only “does the car brake on time?”, but also “does the car brake smoothly enough to be comfortable?”), and ease of access will all come into play in the coming months as the company collects pertinent data.
For those of you still concerned about the idea of self-driving cars frequenting our streets, take ease: throughout the entire history of autonomous vehicle field tests—and the millions of miles that accompany them—only a handful of vehicles have ever deviated from their path long enough to cause any sort of accident.
By comparison, most of us see several crashes caused by (very) human drivers every day on our way to work.
The technology may not be perfect now, but rest assured that, when it becomes readily available to the public, it will be pretty damn close.
As it sits, nuTonomy only has six vehicles in rotation, although their long-term vision includes a massive 1,000 car fleet in the next few years.