The taxi driver may no longer be a tourist’s first guide to the city—because there may not be a taxi driver in the city of the future. Singapore, for one, is looking to launch an MIT-run pilot program that would test automated electric vehicles as taxis in one section of the city.
The Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology has already tested smaller driverless vehicles (more like golf carts) that shuttled visitors around Singapore’s Chinese and Japanese gardens. An expanded pilot will test larger automated cars driving around a high-tech business park in Singapore called One North. Lead researcher Emilio Frazzoli estimates the pilot will be up and running in the next six months.
Singapore is an island, so space for roads is understandably limited, and the government has a high stake in keeping congestion down. The city-state implemented congestion pricing to try to discourage driving starting in 1975, and it has a decent public transport system. However, its citizens still love their cars, and the city will need to find new ways to get people around without incessant gridlock in the future, when Singapore expects to add more than a million people to its population of 5.3 million.