Let’s recall the recent happenings in the ride-hailing service space: Uber after exiting China planned to boost resources for Southeast Asia, on the other hand, it had been working to launch a fleet of self-driving cars. Enter, Uber’s SE Asian rival Grab which seemed confident to outdo the American ride-hailing giant and the Singapore-based firm nuTonomy which had beaten all the tech and automobile firms (just before Uber!) to publicly test self-driving cars. And now, Grab has partnered with nuTonomy to let commuters ply the autonomous vehicles today onwards.
Grab’s app will allow select passengers to book and ride the driverless vehicles within a western Singapore district, where the vehicles are being tested. Each car will have a safety driver and support engineer. NuTonomy’s trial is limited to government designated 2.5km square business district area called One North, but Grab passengers can go beyond the district, as one of the staff supervising the vehicle will drive to complete the trip.
Grab said its data showed drivers in Singapore are less likely to accept a passenger booking request originating from or destined for remote locations, highlighting the need for robo-cars that can meet transportation needs in far-flung areas.
nuTonomy plans to have 100 taxis working commercially in the island-nation by 2018. The public trial will run for the next two months, and may be extended by the companies for as long as it continues to yield valuable feedback and data, the company mentioned.
A Grab representative said to a source,
There is no direct monetary funding (in nuTonomy). At this point, the partnership is focused on Singapore – though there may be other potential synergies between nuTonomy and Grab that we could decide to explore in the future.
For now, the partnership does not include any investment by either firm, nuTonomy will make its self-driving cars available to select Grab users, while the former gets the advantage of using the latter’s tech resources for routing, managing supply and demand, mapping and more. This partnership certainly intensifies the competition between Uber and recently funded Grab!