Users of ride-hailing firm Grab will be able to book driverless cars from Friday as it partners with a start-up testing the technology in Singapore.
The move comes just days after rival Uber debuted its self-driving vehicles in the United States, Reuters reports.
Grab said its app will allow select commuters to book and ride start-up nuTonomy’s driverless vehicles within a western Singapore district, where the vehicles are being tested, and adjacent neighborhoods.
A safety driver and support engineer will ride in each nuTonomy car, the two companies said in a statement.
A limited public trial of the first driverless taxi in Singapore was launched by nuTonomy in August. The company aims to to have 100 taxis working commercially in the city state by 2018.
Countries around the world are encouraging the development of autonomous technologies.
Singapore, with its limited land and workforce, is hoping driverless vehicles will encourage its residents to use more shared vehicles and public transport.
Grab said its data showed drivers in Singapore are less likely to accept a passenger booking request originating from or destined for remote locations.
“There is no direct monetary funding [in nuTonomy],” a Grab representative said.
“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.”
The partnership ups the ante in the competition between Uber and Grab, which just raised US$750 million in a funding round that gives it more ammunition to take on the US firm in Southeast Asia.
Last month, Uber bought self-driving trucks startup Otto and formed a US$300 million alliance with Volvo Car Group to develop self-driving cars.
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