Partnership expands self-driving taxi trial in Singapore

nuTonomy, a software developer for self-driving cars, and ride-hailing app Grab announced a partnership to expand nuTonomy’s ongoing public trial of self-driving cars in Singapore. The trial will give select Grab users a chance to experience the full end-to-end experience of e-hailing and riding in a nuTonomy self-driving vehicle.

Recently, nuTonomy launched the first-ever public trial of a robo-taxi service. The trial is being held within Singapore’s one-north business district, where nuTonomy has been conducting daily autonomous vehicle testing since April. The service is expected to become widely available in Singapore in 2018.

Combining nuTonomy’s Self-Driving Vehicle (SDV) software and technology system with Grab’s proven fleet routing technology and mapping in its app, will enable both companies to study the end-to-end user experience of on-demand hailing of SDV’s. In particular, the trial will be a valuable opportunity to conduct user experience research around how passengers book and interact with SDV’s. The results will be used to enhance Grab’s routing technology and mapping for, as well as improve the comfort, performance, and safety of nuTonomy’s self -driving cars.

Driver takes control

From now on, selected Grab customers can use the app to book a ride in a nuTonomy SDV through a special ‘robo-car’ fleet icon. All rides are free of charge and customers may travel within the one-north business district as well as to adjacent neighbourhoods. A nuTonomy safety driver and support engineer will ride in each car to observe system performance and ensure passenger comfort and safety. If a trip requires travel on roads outside of one-north, the safety driver will take control of the vehicle for that portion of the trip. The public trial will run for the next two months, and may be extended by the companies for as long as it continues to yield valuable feedback and data.

Karl Iagnemma, CEO and Co-Founder of nuTonomy, said, “Partnering with Grab to expand our public trial in Singapore will yield valuable feedback and consumer insights as we read our on-demand self-driving car service for commercial launch in 2018. nuTonomy’s sophisticated software enables self-driving vehicles to navigate complex urban environments comfortably and safely. This exciting new partnership with a leading ride-hailing company – and its large and growing customer base across Asia – will ensure that we’re also delivering a high quality transportation service that consumers trust.”

Remote locations

According to Grab’s traffic data, drivers in Singapore are less likely to accept a passenger booking request originating from or destined for remote locations. For example, in the more remote areas of Singapore like Jurong Island, Lim Chu Kang and Tuas, passengers are four times less likely to get a successful ride booking on their first try. These findings illustrate the transportation need in the nation’s underserved remote locations that robo-cars can help meet.

Anthony Tan, CEO and Co-Founder of Grab, said, “Grab and nuTonomy share a similar vision of advancing Singapore’s world-class public transport network by offering the widest range of mobility services to commuters. This landmark tech partnership is a step towards supplementing Singapore’s transport network with an innovative driverless commuting option for underserved areas of Singapore – all accessible through the Grab app. We look forward to collaborating with nuTonomy to research this future mobility solution as part of our growing platform of mobility offerings.”

Author: Vincent Krabbendam

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