One of the reasons self-driving is guaranteed to take hold is the sheer numbers of competitors in the space all striving for the best solution. There is also competition between cities, states and countries.
On August 18, Uber announced it would test self-driving taxis in Pittsburgh later this month. But second place will have to do. The World’s First Self-Driving Taxis Debut in Singapore starting Thursday.
Select members of the public will be able to hail a free ride through their smartphones in taxis operated by nuTonomy, an autonomous vehicle software startup. While multiple companies, including Google and Volvo, have been testing self-driving cars on public roads for several years, nuTonomy says it will be the first to offer rides to the public. It will beat ride-hailing service Uber, which plans to offer rides in autonomous cars in Pittsburgh, by a few weeks.
The service will start small — six cars now, growing to a dozen by the end of the year. The ultimate goal, say nuTonomy officials, is to have a fully self-driving taxi fleet in Singapore by 2018, which will help sharply cut the number of cars on Singapore’s congested roads. Eventually, the model could be adopted in cities around the world, nuTonomy says.
For now, the taxis only will run in a 2.5-square-mile business and residential district called “one-north,” and pick-ups and drop-offs will be limited to specified locations. And riders must have an invitation from nuTonomy to use the service. The company says dozens have signed up for the launch, and it plans to expand that list to thousands of people within a few months.
The cars — modified Renault Zoe and Mitsubishi i-MiEV electrics — have a driver in front who is prepared to take back the wheel and a researcher in back who watches the car’s computers. Each car is fitted with six sets of Lidar — a detection system that uses lasers to operate like radar — including one that constantly spins on the roof. There are also two cameras on the dashboard to scan for obstacles and detect changes in traffic lights.
Doug Parker, nuTonomy’s chief operating officer, said autonomous taxis could ultimately reduce the number of cars on Singapore’s roads from 900,000 to 300,000.
“When you are able to take that many cars off the road, it creates a lot of possibilities. You can create smaller roads, you can create much smaller car parks,” Parker said. “I think it will change how people interact with the city going forward.”
Olivia Seow, 25, who does work in startup partnerships in one-north and is one of the riders nuTonomy selected, took a test ride of just less than a mile on Monday. She acknowledged she was nervous when she got into the car, and then surprised as she watched the steering wheel turn by itself.
“It felt like there was a ghost or something,” she said.
But she quickly grew more comfortable. The ride was smooth and controlled, she said, and she was relieved to see that the car recognized even small obstacles like birds and motorcycles parked in the distance.
“I couldn’t see them with my human eye, but the car could, so I knew that I could trust the car,” she said. She said she is excited because the technology could free up her time during commutes or help her father by driving him around as he grows older.
An Associated Press reporter taking a ride Wednesday observed that the safety driver had to step on the brakes once, when a car was obstructing the test car’s lane and another vehicle, which appeared to be parked, suddenly began moving in the oncoming lane.
NuTonomy Test Drive
Above image from the BBC report Self-Driving Taxi Trial Kicks Off in Singapore.
Once again, I note the date on my calendar. It appears to be 2016. Ford has five years of testing to get the technology correct for its launch date of cars without steering wheels.
It won’t take that long.
Uber Offers Driverless Rides This Month! What About Snow, Rain, Pigeons, 80-Year-Olds on Roller Skates?
New Lidar Chips for Self-Driving Vehicles are Smaller Than a Dime, Cost $10 to Manufacture
Here are the announced launch dates from Driverless Car Watch
Delphi and MobilEye to provide off-the-shelf self-driving system by 2019
Both companies have announced that they will bring a fully self-driving (SAE level 4) system on the market for use in a variety of cars in 2019.
Source: TheVerge, 2016-08-23
Ford CEO announces fully autonomous vehicles for mobility services by 2021
Mark Fields, Ford’s CEO announced that the company plans to offer fully self-driving vehicles by 2021. The vehicles, which will come without steering wheel and pedals, will be targeted to fleets which provide autonomous mobility services. Fields expects that it will take several years longer until Ford will sell autonomous vehicles to the public.
Source: Reuters, 2016-08-16
Volkswagen expects first self driving cars on the market by 2019
Johann Jungwirth, Volkswagen’s appointed head of Digitalization Strategy, expects the first self-driving cars to appear on the market by 2019. He did not claim that these would be Volkswagen models.
Source: Focus, 2016-04-23
GM: Autononomous cars could be deployed by 2020 or sooner
General Motor’s head of foresight and trends Richard Holman said at a confererence in Detroit that most industry participants now think that self-driving cars will be on the road by 2020 or sooner.
Source: Wall Street Journal, 2016-05-10
BMW to launch autonomous iNext in 2021
At their annual shareholder meeting, BMW CEO Harald Krueger said that BMW will launch a self-driving electric vehicle, the BMW iNext, in 2021.
Source: Elektrek, 2016-05-12
Ford’s head of product development: autonomous vehicle on the market by 2020
Raj Nair, Ford’s head of product development, expects that autonomous vehicles of SAE level 4 (which means that the car needs no driver but may not be capable of driving everywhere) will hit the market by 2020.(Source: autonews, 2016-02-27)
Baidu’s Chief Scientist expects large number of self-driving cars on the road by 2019
In an interview session, Andrew Ng, the chief scientist of the Chinese search engine Baidu expects that a large number self-driving self-driving cars will be on the road within three years, and that mass-production will be in full swing by 2021.
(Source: Quora, 2016-01-29)
First autonomous Toyota to be available in 2020
Toyota is starting to overcome its long-standing reluctance with respect to autonomous driving: It plans to bring the first models capable of autonomous highway driving to the market by 2020.
(Source: Wired.com, 2015-10-08)
Elon Musk now expects first fully autonomous Tesla by 2018, approved by 2021
In an interview by Danish newspaper Borsen, Tesla’s founder Elon Musk accelerates his timeline for the introduction of fully autonomous Teslas by 2 years (!) compared to his estimate less than a year ago (October 2014). He now expects fully autonomous Teslas to be ready by 2018 but notes that regulatory approval may take 1 to 3 more years thereafter.
(Source: Borsen Interview on youtube, timeline: 8:06-8:29, recorded on 2015-9-23)
Mike “Mish” shedlock
I saw this all in Total Recall….Arnold “reprogrammed” the Ai, LOL
“Thank you for using JohnnyCab.”
Dominoes is using drones to deliver pizza.
It does not make it practical – nor does it make it financially viable.
Watch the video
UBER right now is losing BILLIONS – losing BILLIONS .
Just because you can put a car on the road in a 2.5 mile area
with 6 LIDAR and 2 PERSONS does not make it practical – nor financially viable.
Jus t because you can put a chip on a circuit board and have it perform basic Arithmetic, doesn’t make personal computing practical – nor financially viable.
Your argument is impressively poor. Mish has proved that it’s feasible, being attempted, and has nearly 0 marginal cost per unit. Good game, you lose.
Well, if there weren’t already enough reasons not to visit Pittsburg this one aces it for me.
I only wish they’d roll the full-blown driverless taxi programs out in DC and make it the mandatory transportation mode for all congressional representatives around the beltway. If they want to pass crazy laws that puts these cars on the roadway then they can eat some of their own cooking. Let congress serve as our guinea pigs. Under those circumstances I’m all in on driverless vehicles. Put me in the ‘yes’ column, Mish! 🙂
Hillary should campaign in one… It’d be an attention getter, and best of all, she would be contained in a very small area, for a very long time.
Urban is the toughest environment, and no doubt a lot will be learned from these tests. The part about the human driver needing to take over when “another vehicle, which appeared to be parked, suddenly began moving in the oncoming lane” is tip-of-the-iceberg urban road rage.
When the automobile was first coming into its own, president WWI Wilson tried driving in Washington DC and promptly smashed into a woman riding a bicycle. They paid her off, new bike etc., to keep it quiet (bad for the presidential image). Was a big deal for a person to drive a car back then, and now we take it for granted.
Brought to mind when I last visited Portland, Oregon and was on a trolley-bus riding down the narrow downtown main street. A few blocks before reaching the history and art museums, the driver had to stop and get out and physically push the mirror of a parked truck out of the way. Yes, had to stop the bus and physically get out and move the obstacle. Perhaps a driverless car will need a robot helper for those sorts of occasions.
Trader Joe said:
This nonsense will fail miserably….and by the way, LiDar is old school….GayDar is the latest technology.
No soup for you.
Here is how you detect BS:
“the safety driver had to step on the brakes once, when a car was obstructing the test car’s lane and another vehicle, which appeared to be parked, suddenly began moving in the oncoming lane.”
In other words, it is going so slowly that people are getting angry and cutting around it any way they can. It probably saw a bird 2 blocks away and needed to stop and let the computer analyze that for several minutes.
This so-called *service* is nothing more than the very limited testing being done by google. Calling it a taxi is a lie because it doesn’t take you where you want to go. And it’s free because it is going extremely slowly.
Driverless cars will happen. But in small numbers and in very limited ways. For a long time they will be slow and *real* people trying to commute or conduct business will consider them a traffic obstruction. The dream of mass adoption like we have with manual cars is decades away.
Trader Joe said:
“It probably saw a bird 2 blocks away and needed to stop and let the computer analyze that for several minutes.”
Still laughing over that one.
This driverless car nonsense has all the hallmarks of the faked moon-landings.
If these things enter the road, expect Grand Theft Auto to look like a walk in the park. I remember playing this game in the mid 90´s (I think in version 3), where you ran over a dozen joggers in orange suits, and you got the GOURANGA. It will only be a couple of days though, until the things are banned worldwide, and the companies involved have destroyed their names..
Please think before making silly comments that have been rebutted half a dozen times.
Police will be immediately alerted and it would be a simple thing to design an emergency shutoff.
Thefts will likely drop.
Trader Joe said:
If you want to write about and follow something that might have a “real” impact — start posting about blockchain technology.
You’ll know they’ve really arrived when you see them in Manila.
Young people want it. It will happen. They will play immersive games on their phones and arrive at their destination remembering nothing that happened since they stepped in the vehicle.
Science like nuclear fusion and humanoid robots don’t happen because nobody honestly cares when they have inexpensive fossil fuel and boundless x-rated streaming (with regard to the real market driver for humanoid robots).
Flying cars would be several orders of magnitude more difficult to implement. People also recognize they don’t directly solve the problem – too many people going to the same place at the same time fighting for the right of way.
The mantra of slow moving automated driving: Make Pokemon Go, not road rage.
more like sex – on the commute home
Robot ban ownets will get a show.
Millenials prefer texting to f…ng.
How does it take cars off the road? I understand it could take a lot of cars out of garages but the exact same number of people will be traveling at any given time.
ikan air said:
On demand feeder service to train (tear down those parking lots and convert to parks)
Automated car pooling/ride sharing with random people(tracked,identified+camera in cab)
Current human car pooling involves too much hassle
The fine city of Singapore will give you a nice fine if you don’t car pool 😀
Easy peasy and …. whole bunch of cars off the streets
smaller cars (or autonomous personnal mobility device)
– ban all big cars from city center
– max speed 30-50kmph
Cities will be much more liveable
So it boils down to more carpooling? 3x as much carpooling, based on a reduction of 900,000 to 300,000 quoted in the article. Dubious.
This can only work in a place like Singapore, where the gov fines people for having bad manners. They seem willing to accept a strictly enforced social code.
Try that in a US inner city and watch the fun begin.
ikan air said:
Try raising insurance premiums for for human drivers and see it happen :p
Most of car makers are going to make self driving vehicles, once it goes mainstream, who would make cars for human drivers? or more likely – Why make cars for human drivers?
No doubt there will be still be niche manufacturer, but without economy of scale, be prepared to pay if you wanna drive yourself
You can still ride a horse or go sailing to caribbean, but you do it now because you love it, not because you need to.
(owning a horse or sail boat is an expensive hobby, same as will be, when you wanna drive you own car)
Nice Curmudgeon said:
Most cars spend over 90% of the time parked in one place or another; those cars could instead be used more efficiently by doing their primary task of transport for more hours of the day. Under such circumstances, peak demand hour becomes the limiting factor in regard to how many vehicles would need to be on the road.
Trader Joe said:
Hell, for all anyone knows the # of vehicles may even increase if the price for rides is cheap enough. Anyone that says they know or can figure out where this is headed is full of sh*t.
by 2026, there will be between 20 & 40 million level 4/5 SD motor vehicles on American roads. Traffic violence will plumment.
Car owners who insist to drive will see their insurance preminums skyrocket as DAs start prosecuting reckless drivers and civil damage suits are legion.
Beer Drinker said:
I’ve said for several years now that Singapore would be one of the first for this technology due to the small size of the island, large number of taxis already operating, and the government’s stance on modernization with their ability to enforce change. And there are so many reasons why this technology makes sense for Singapore even above and beyond that list.
Now if only this test was being done in Tuas instead of One North I would be more excited. It is impossible to get a taxi in Tuas (drivers don’t like going out there), but has a lot of warehousing and manufacturing.