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Singapore became the first country to have self-driving taxis

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Singapore just became the first country to actually implement self-driving taxis on the road and have begun picking up passengers.
So far, nuTonomy – the car makers and the app that hails them – has implanted six cars that can
autonomously pick up passengers and deliver them to destinations, making
them the first company to offer such technology to the public.
“We face constraints in land and manpower,” Singapore’s permanent secretary for transport, Pang Kin Keong, told the Associated Press.

“We want to take advantage of
self-driving technology to overcome such constraints, and in particular
to introduce new mobility concepts which could bring about
transformational improvements to public transport in Singapore.” 

While the news is definitely cool, there are some caveats, because
the system is still in its testing phase. The cars – Mitsubishi i-Mievs
and Renault Zoes – only traverse a 2.5-square-mile
(6.5-square-kilometre) region of Singapore known as One-North, and there
are special drop-off and pick-up zones that passengers must deal with.

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And probably the most intrusive aspect of the testing is that a driver
is still actually in the car to make sure nothing crazy happens along
the way, and a researcher is also present to keep tabs on all the
systems. So, in a way, ‘driverless’ is a bit of misnomer for now.

“The pilot is going to allow us to collect technical data, but
equally importantly, it’s going to allow us to find out if people enjoy
riding in driverless cars,” nuTonomy CEO Karl Iagnemma told Mark Harris from The Guardian.

The good news is that riders who are lucky enough to use the service right now will ride for free while testing is happening. The team hopes to eventually fill out their fleet by 2018
with many more drop-off and pick-up areas added, but their real goal
seems to be to get cars off of the country’s crowded and overburdened
streets.
nuTonomy was launched back in 2013
by MIT researchers Karl Iagnemma and Emilio Frazzoli, who were working
to develop autonomous vehicles for the Defence Department.
It operates in both the US and Singapore, but the US is yet to
approve public testing of the technology, which will likely be filled
with mistakes and accidents before it’s fully functional.

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