Uber rival Grab partners with driverless car firm in Singapore

Fri Sep 23, 2016 2:37am EDT
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By Aradhana Aravindan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Users of ride-hailing firm Grab will be able to book driverless cars from Friday as it partners with a start-up testing the technology in Singapore, just days after rival Uber [UBER.UL] debuted its self-driving vehicles in the United States.

The move comes as technology companies and automakers race to build autonomous vehicles and develop new business plans for what is expected to be a long-term makeover of personal transportation.

Southeast Asia's Grab said its app will allow a selected group of commuters to book and ride start-up nuTonomy's driverless vehicles within a western Singapore district, where the vehicles are being tested, and adjacent neighborhoods.

A safety driver and support engineer will ride in each nuTonomy car, the two companies said in a statement.

While Grab users will be able to request a "robo-car" in advance from Friday, they will be only able to ride them from early next week.

nuTonomy, which started a limited public trial of the first driverless taxi in August in Singapore, has said it hopes to have 100 taxis working commercially in the city-state by 2018.

nuTonomy currently has two regulator-approved cars on the road, with four more on the way. Its CEO, Karl Iagnemma, said at a press conference on Friday he hopes to have a dozen by the end of the year.

Countries around the world are encouraging the development of autonomous technologies, and Singapore, with its limited land and workforce, is hoping driverless vehicles will encourage its residents to use more shared vehicles and public transport.   Continued...

A man passes a Grab signage in their office in Singapore September 23, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su