Self-Driving Taxis Hit Singapore

November 16, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. commence / kəˈmɛns / (v.) – to begin something
Example: The meeting commenced on time.

2. fleet / flit / (n.) – a large group of vehicles
Example: The businessman bought a fleet of taxis to start a new business.

3. hail / heɪl / (v.) – to get attention by calling out to someone or something
Example: It is hard to hail a taxi during rush hour.    

4. prototype / ˈproʊ təˌtaɪp / (n.) – the first model of a machine or product
Example: The inventor created a working prototype of the first robot.

5. operational / ˌɒp əˈreɪ ʃə nl / (adj.) – functional and available for use
Example: The train station will be operational once the repairs are finished.


Read the text below.
Singapore has officially launched a trial period for the world’s first self-driving taxis.

To commence the trial, startup technology company NuTonomy rolled out six self-driving taxis in September. This number is projected to double by the end of the year, as the company pushes its goal to build a self-driving fleet by 2018. The trial aims to gauge passenger experience and to test the taxis’ software performance and routing efficiency.

During the trial period, select passengers will be able to use the service for free. They can hail a taxi using a smartphone app.  Safety engineers will also be in the taxi while it operates to ensure smooth rides. The engineers will continue supervision until the service officially begins in 2018.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Google and Uber are separately developing self-driving cars. Last year, Google released the prototype of its first self-driving car in California. On the other hand, Uber rolled out four autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Uber’s cars possess technology that lets them assess the objects around them.

Other companies that are also joining the driverless cars trend are leading car manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Tesla. With the current progress rate of self-driving cars, experts say that 10 million driverless cars will be operational by 2020.

Richard Wallace, a director at Center for Automotive Research in Michigan, believes that the launch of self-driving cars could reduce road accidents. According to research, majority of car crashes in the United States are caused by human error.  Wallace believes that as technology advances, the artificial intelligence installed in self-driving cars will be more reliable and efficient.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         To whom would self-driving cars be most beneficial?
·         What are the possible disadvantages of using self-driving cars?

Discussion B

·         What object would you want to be automated?
·         What are the disadvantages of automation?

November 16, 2016