Grab to partner with nuTonomy for driverless car trial, users can book vehicles for free

A nuTonomy self-driving taxi drives on the road in its public trial in Singapore on Aug 25, 2016.
A nuTonomy self-driving taxi drives on the road in its public trial in Singapore on Aug 25, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS
nuTonomy announced that it would partner Grab for its on-demand driverless car trial which began in August.
nuTonomy announced that it would partner Grab for its on-demand driverless car trial which began in August. ST PHOTO: WANG HUI FEN

SINGAPORE - Start-up nuTonomy announced on Friday (Sept 23) that it would partner ride-hailing service Grab for its on-demand driverless car trial which began in August.

For two months, a select group of Grab users will now be able to book nuTonomy's driverless cars for free using a special "robo-car" icon on their app.

Users, who must be above the age of 18, will be able to sign up for the trial from Friday and need to sign a liability waiver.

Commuters will be able to book a ride to areas within the one-north business district, where nuTonomy has been conducting tests of its vehicles since April, as well as nearby neighbourhoods.

Each car will have a support engineer and a safety driver, who will take control of the vehicle outside of one-north, designated by the Government as a test area for autonomous vehicles.

The trial is aimed at gathering information on improving the comfort, performance and safety of nuTonomy's self-driving vehicles, as well as refining Grab's routing technology and mapping for these vehicles.

"Partnering with Grab to expand our public trial in Singapore will yield valuable feedback and consumer insights as nuTonomy readies our on-demand self-driving car service for commercial launch in 2018," said nuTonomy chief executive officer Karl Iagnemma.

Mr Yeoh Keat Chuan, managing director of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), said the partnership between nuTonomy and Grab "will contribute to the development and deployment of self-driving technologies here".

Mr Yeoh added that the partnership was a testament to the "vibrancy of the urban mobility ecosystem" here.

EDB has invested in nuTonomy.

nuTonomy said it was working with the authorities to expand the scope of its trial with Grab in the future.