Published on August 25th, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Driverless taxis by nuTonomy on Singapore’s roads now
Uber has just been beaten by self-driving car start-up nuTonomy in Singapore as the first of many driverless cars start operation in a limited section of the small island state. MIT tech start-up ‘uTonomy’ is helping Singapore develop its autonomous vehicle (AV) capabilities and is enroute to become the first in the world to roll out a driverless taxi system.
The driving force behind the company – its chief executive officer Karl Iagnemma – says in a recent interview that the concept of mobility as a service is increasing worldwide.
“The economic reality will be that it is significantly more expensive to own your own car,” says Iagnemma, who is a principal research scientist at US university, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “We believe that this will lead to more and more people living in cities to give up owning a personal car.”
nuTonomy is an MIT spin-off co-founded and led by Iagnemma and Emilio Frazzoli, its chief technical officer, who is an MIT professor of aeronautical and astronautical engineering. The firm is set on tackling the “most difficult challenge” in self-driving cars: urban driving.
Iagnemma says that despite the intense global competition – by big players such as Google and Uber – to develop self-driving taxis for big cities, nuTonomy has a big advantage because “we built the company based on over 10 years of research in developing AV technology”.
This technological head start is what will enable nuTonomy to be the first company in the world to deliver an autonomous taxi service, he notes.
He adds that nuTonomy is quickly building a team of comparable size to the research groups at Google and Uber, and “we are confident that our technology is world-class.”
The American scientist’s research over the past years has resulted in a dozen patents, with applications in passenger vehicle safety systems, robotic surgery, and Mars surface exploration. He is also well known for his short stories on the drama behind science, mathematics, and human-robotic relationships.