Last summer, an American startup by the name of nuTonomy made headlines following the launch of the world’s first taxi service implementing a fleet of self-driving cars.
Albeit a trial only, the service, which covered a few streets in Singapore, provided an early look at a likely future where self-driving cars will be running around town offering rides. nuTonomy says a self-driving taxi service is much closer than most people think. In fact, the company says it hopes to launch the first fully functional service in Singapore as early as 2018.
nuTonomy’s fleet so far has been made up of Renault Zoe electric hatchbacks. However, the company on Wednesday announced a partnership with PSA Group that will see the French auto giant’s vehicles join nuTonomy’s self-driving car fleet. It’s a similar deal to the one between Volvo and Uber, and between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Waymo.
nuTonomy autonomous Renault Zoe
Under the initial phase of the partnership, nuTonomy will install its software, along with specialized sensors and computer hardware, into Peugeot 3008 SUVs. nuTonomy expects to complete the integration of its self-driving system this summer, with on-road testing to begin in Singapore in September. nuTonomy is also currently testing its self-driving cars on the streets of Boston, Massachusetts.
PSA Group, like most major automakers, sees mobility solutions as a key growth area. It’s currently testing the waters with some car-sharing services, including here in the United States, and the automaker’s long-term goal is to establish fleets of self-driving cars in major cities all over the globe.
Once self-driving cars are viewed as a safe and reliable alternative to actual driving, car ownership rates are likely to drop significantly, at least in major cities. They’re already starting to drop in some parts due to increases in congestion, ownership costs, and the use of car- and ride-sharing services.