The move consolidates Grab’s foothold in the Southeast Asian market.
Grab, a ride-hailing company which is giving Uber the shivers in Asia, has partnered with a Singaporean startup which specializes in driverless-technology thus further strengthening its hold on the Southeast Asian ride-hailing market.
With transportation technology expected to get a makeover with autonomous vehicles, auto manufacturers are racing to build autonomous vehicles and business plans to tap this emerging market.
According to Grab, a select group of commuters can now use its app to book nuTonomy’s driverless vehicles within western Singapore. Driverless technology is currently being tested in that region along with adjacent neighbourhoods.
In a statement both companies have stated that a safety driver and a support engineer will ride in each nuTonomy autonomous car.
Furthermore, Grab has notified that although consumers will be able to request a “robo-car” in advance starting from today (Friday), the car themselves will be rideable only from early next week.
nuTonomy has started testing its driverless taxis in Singapore since August this year. It hopes to have 100 autonomous commercial taxies by 2018.
Although nuTonomy has only two approved autonomous cars on the roads as of now, as per Karl Iagnemma, nuTonomy’s CEO, expect more than a dozen by the end of this year.
Significantly, Grab has stated that typically drivers in Singapore are less likely to accept booking requests from passengers for remote locations, thus highlighting the need for “robo-cars” that can service these far-flung areas.
“Our view of self-driving vehicles is it’s a supplementary solution to some of the issues that we are unable to solve with existing supply,” said Lim Kell Jay, head of Grab Singapore.
If a trip requires travel on roads outside of Singapore’s one-north district, the accompanying safety driver will take control of the vehicle for that portion of the trip.
The public trial is set to run for the next two months.