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US self-driving startup to launch services in Singapore next year

US self-driving company NuTonomy, has announced plans to launch a paid, commercial service in Singapore. The US startup publicly announced its plans last week, and believes it will be in a position to deploy its services in Singapore by the second quarter of next year.

NuTonomy Chief Executive Karl Iagnemma has previously spoke of his desire to penetrate the ride-hailing services sector in Singapore, which is seen as one of the most technologically progressive countries in the world.

Self-driving technology continues to expand exponentially - with dozens of automotive firms entering partnerships and creating consortiums in a bid to accelerate the deployment of autonomous vehicles and self-driving platforms. Analysts have identified ride services companies as being one of the most important markets for manufacturers of self-driving cars, particularly in the early years of the market, when it is projected that the excessive cost of technology will more than likely rule out mass adoption.

Several other US ride-hailing services companies are currently testing self-driving cars at different locations across the world - those companies include Alphabet's Waymo and Uber. NuTonomy, has a test service in Singapore with South-East Asian ride services partner Grab. It has been disclosed that the US startup plans to charge customers for the new commercial service which will be launched in Singapore next year. However, it has emerged that a human driver will be ready to takeover if needed. This practice is currently implemented in most test environments.

NuTonomy, which already has collaborations with several car companies including Renault SA declined to be drawn on a more specific timing for its commercial deployment in Singapore, instead suggesting it should be in the second-half of next year, but conceded it could be in either the third or fourth quarter. In addition to this, it was also announced that the software firm is set to launch a test service with US ride services firm Lyft in Boston later this year.