Wednesday , 20 June 2018
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The driverless taxi is almost here

Driverless taxis and shuttles are coming to big cities, without a doubt.

Recently, I got to take a ride in a driverless car in Singapore, which helped convince me of the value of these vehicles. While I’d rate the overall concept of driverless taxis a 9 out of 10, the actual test drive I took merited just a 6.

It deserved a 6 rating mainly because of the reactions made by its collision-avoidance software being developed by Singapore startup nuTonomy. The software apparently over-compensated with a pretty hard braking action when we approached another vehicle that was parked in the other direction on a two-lane roadway and, later, when we got too close to a road crew. (I’m very forgiving about tech tests and pilots, so that 6 rating could easily bump to a 9 or 10 in just a few weeks.)

City transportation planners envision that such vehicles will be used primarily as a “last-mile” connector, such as between the end of a subway train stop or a major bus stop and a person’s home or job site. That’s the goal envisioned not just by officials in Singapore, but also their counterparts in places as farflung as Kansas City, Mo.,
and by Uber in its recently announced tests in Pittsburgh.

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