We thought Uber’s driverless cars would cross the finish line first ,but a smaller, low-profile company beat it to the punch. NuTonomy vehicles launched yesterday #automagic
On the other side of the world in Singapore, NuTonomy, a 3-year-old MIT spin-off, gave the green light to its first self-driving vehicles. The first tests began in April and are still running in places like London and Michigan. The public trial in Japan though, is the first of its kind in the world, on a restricted area, of course. Customers can hail a cab for free, but only in “One North”, a 2.5km square business district area. The cars cleared for the trial are Renault Zoe or Mitsubishi i-MiEV.
Although the idea is to send a fully autonomous taxi fleet on the road by 2018, for the moment each vehicle will have an engineer on board. He will take control of the car if something goes wrong and analyze system performance.
That said, once Uber launches their cars and more high-profile companies follow, can NuTonomy remain relevant? Well, at this moment the future of the has never looked brighter. Jaguar Land Rover is one of their partners and Singapore Economic Development Board itself is one of their backers. In May, it took part in their $16 million Series A financing round.