The ride-hailing firm Grab in Singapore is partnering with firms which are debuting driverless cars with them. Just few days before, Uber debuted its self-driving vehicles and now Grab and the car firms are up for a start-up testing of the technology. Users of this Uber competitor company will now be able to book the car.
This movement is the proof that autonomous vehicles are being built as a race among all the automakers and technology companies. Also, a development can be seen in new business plan which is expected to become a long-term makeover of private transport.
According to in.reuters.com,
Southeast Asia‚Äôs Grab said its app will allow select commuters to book and ride start-up nuTonomy‚Äôs driverless vehicles within a western Singapore district, where the vehicles are being tested, and adjacent neighbourhoods.
A safety driver and support engineer will ride in each nuTonomy car, the two companies said in a statement.
nuTonomy, which started a limited public trial of the first driverless taxi in August in Singapore, has said it hopes to have 100 taxis working commercially in the city-state by 2018.
Countries around the world are encouraging the development of autonomous technologies, and Singapore, with its limited land and workforce, is hoping driverless vehicles will encourage its residents to use more shared vehicles and public transport.
Grab said its data showed drivers in Singapore are less likely to accept a passenger booking request originating from or destined for remote locations, highlighting the need for ‚Äúrobo-cars‚ÄĚ that can meet transportation needs in far-flung areas.
If a trip requires travel on roads outside of Singapore‚Äôs one-north district, 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, they said.
‚ÄúThere is no direct monetary funding (in nuTonomy),‚ÄĚ a Grab representative said. ‚ÄúAt this point, the partnership is focused on Singapore ‚Äď though there may be other potential synergies between nuTonomy and Grab that we could decide to explore in the future.‚ÄĚ
Techtimes.com articled that:
‚ÄúPartnering with Grab to expand our public trial in Singapore will yield valuable feedback and consumer insights as nuTonomy readies our on-demand self-driving car service for commercial launch in 2018,‚ÄĚ said Karl Iagnemma, nuTonomy‚Äôs chief executive.
Select Grab customers in Singapore will find a new option in their Grab app called ‚Äúrobo-car,‚ÄĚ which summons one of nuTonomy‚Äôs six driverless cars. Travel, though, is limited, because the city‚Äôs Land Transport Authority only allowed a set perimeter for the driverless test runs. The driverless service will only be applicable within a 1.5 square-mile scope inside One-North, a business park in Queenstown, Singapore.
All rides will come free-of-charge for select users. But like Uber‚Äôs approach, each driverless ride will be accompanied by a human driver behind the wheel, along with a software engineer. If a trip goes out of One-North, the human driver would swoop in, taking control for the remainder of the trip.
Initially, nuTonomy‚Äôs partnership with Grab will operate for two months, in which the collaboration aims to study user patterns and behavior. It‚Äôs a win-win for both parties: select customers get a free ride and a chance to experience firsthand how a driverless transport feels, while Grab and nuTonomy will use the data gathered to improve its service on fronts like mapping, routing, overall performance and the safety of users.
‚ÄúThis landmark tech partnership is a step towards supplementing Singapore‚Äôs transport network,‚ÄĚ said Anthony Tan, Grab‚Äôs chief executive and co-founder said.
In Singapore, the reliance on privately-owned cars to get around the city has grown rampant, and many ongoing driverless experiments within the city all throw in collective efforts to develop and promote the technology that can help reduce this problem.
The Grab-nuTonomy partnership adds another layer of competition in the fast-growing developments targeted at autonomous ride-hailing services. Recently, Grab managed to raise $750 million in a funding round, winning over Uber, that aims to expand its ride-hailing services in the Southeast Asian region, home to a potential market of more than 600 million people.
Grab‚Äôs ride-hailing service has unprecedented proliferation in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. It receives 1.5 million bookings daily. Uber, on the other hand, has been having trouble trying to gain footing in the Asian market in general. Just recently it succumbed to China‚Äôs Didi Chuxing, a transportation network company in Beijing, prompting it to exit the Chinese market.