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Singapore Is Already Planning for a Future of Driverless Taxis

Officials see the technology as a way to make the city-state “even more sustainable and liveable.”
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This summer, Google will begin testing its custom-made self-driving car on the streets of Mountain View, California. That’s a big step forward for autonomous technology, but there’s arguably a bigger one brewing in Singapore, at least as far as the future of cities is concerned. Officials there are expected to authorize an on-demand driverless taxi trial on public roads—a concept that could change the very nature of urban mobility, with shared autonomous vehicles operating as a sort of point-to-point transit system.

“For me, really the big benefit of this technology is essentially making car-sharing as convenient as private car-ownership, but also as sustainable and scalable as public transportation,” says Emilio Frazzoli, lead investigator for the urban mobility component of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), a research consortium that’s applied to run the taxi pilot.