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Self-driving taxis hit Singapore

US startup nuTonomy on Thursday began trialling autonomous taxis in Singapore, beating Uber to the starting line.

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Move over Uber, the newest transport disruptor is here. On a trial basis, at least.

Starting on Thursday, some residents of Singapore will be able to take taxi rides in self-driving cars. It's brought to the Asian nation by US-based nuTonomy.

The Renault Zoe and Mitsubishi i-Miev taxis will be hailed using an invite-only app. Perhaps to help give peace of mind to all customers, a nuTonomy engineer will be in each car to make sure the ride is smooth and to take manual control if need be.

It's a limited trial, though. These autonomous taxis, while free, will only commute through Singapore's one-north business district.

The startup, which in May received $16 million in funding, is narrowly beating Uber to the punch. The ride-sharing giant reportedly hopes to trial autonomous vehicles in downtown Pittsburgh sometime this month. Uber hopes that a fully autonomous Volvo will be a staple of its Pittsburgh fleet by the end of the year.

It's not the first self-driving taxi trial, however, with driverless taxis doing the rounds in Tokyo earlier this year, courtesy of phone company DeNA.

"The trial represents an extraordinary opportunity to collect feedback from riders in a real-world setting," said Karl Iagnemma, CEO and co-founder of nuTonomy. "This feedback will give nuTonomy a unique advantage as we work toward deployment of a self-driving vehicle fleet in 2018."