The self-driving vehicle technology firm NuTonomy is now aiming for the launch of a completely autonomous commercial taxi service in Singapore as soon as the second quarter of 2018, according to recent reports.
The new launch targets were made by the US-based firm’s CEO, Karl Iagnemma, and are more or less in keeping with the company’s earlier development goals.
To be extra clear here, this commercial service will apparently still feature backup drivers that are present in case of a need to takeover — it’s not completely clear when the service would become completely autonomous. Or how far the company is from achieving a service good enough for complete commercial autonomy.
Reuters provides more: “NuTonomy, which currently has a test service in Singapore with southeast Asian ride services partner Grab, plans to charge riders for the new commercial service in Singapore, albeit still with a human driver ready to take over if needed, as is done today in most tests.
“Software firm NuTonomy, which works with several car companies including Renault SA, had said it planned to launch commercial service next year, without being more specific on timing. Iagnemma in an interview said he hoped paid self-driving rides would start in the second quarter, although it could be the third or fourth. NuTonomy also plans to launch a test service with US ride service firm Lyft in Boston later this year.”
With regard to the initial use of backup drivers, even after commercial service begins, it’s an interesting question whether such an approach is all that safe. As we’ve noted previously, it’s apparent that “drivers/engineers” stop paying as much attention as they should when monitoring self-driving vehicle testing after only a short time — due to the sheer monotony of the work and lack of any need to do anything.
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