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Singapore tests self-driving cars you use like taxis

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
December 23, 2014
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One of the greatest allures of self-driving cars is the prospect of never needing your own vehicle -- you could just catch robotic rides whenever you want personal transportation. Well, Singapore is about to explore how well that concept works in practice. The city (with MIT's help) is opening up one of its neighborhoods to autonomous cars next year to see how well they could eliminate traffic congestion. Ideally, you'll use these driverless vehicles like short-range taxis or Uber cars: hail one whenever you need to get to the airport or train station and keep another privately-owned car off the road. That's particularly helpful in Singapore, where the extreme population density (19,725 people per square mile) has led to strong government incentives for using mass transit.

There are still a lot of hurdles before you can simply expect to hop in an unmanned car for a cross-city jaunt. MIT wants to know how bikes and pedestrians could influence the car behavior, and finished cars will need hyper-accurate maps to make sure they don't hit the curb or stop in the wrong place. If large-scale tests like this pan out, however, you may not have to shell out for a car simply because you can't (or don't want to) take the bus.

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