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nuTonomy halts vehicle trials after accident at one-north

The start-up says it has released all the data logs as well as an initial report to the authorities, and conducted its own investigations into the accident.

SINGAPORE: Autonomous vehicle startup nuTonomy has stopped all trials of its vehicles until investigations into an accident involving one of its driverless cars is completed, said the company's co-founder Emilio Frazzoli on Wednesday (Oct 19).

The start-up had been testing its fleet of vehicles in the one-north district with plans to launch a driverless taxi service in 2018. On Tuesday morning, one of its test cars collided with a lorry while it was changing lanes.

"We released all the data logs and initial report to the authorities and conducted our own investigations,” said Mr Frazzoli.

“The good thing is that nobody was injured - the cars were a little bit dented on the side but - I'm not happy to say this - but this is something that I have to face in this programme.

“These kinds of things happen and the only way to be completely safe and have nothing happen is to keep the car in the workshop but that's not our business."

Mr Frazzoli was speaking at a panel discussion on the future of driverless vehicles during the Singapore International Transport Congress and Exhibition.

Panellists discussed how authorities should regulate driverless vehicles, as well as ethical dilemmas, such as whether the vehicle should be programmed to prioritise saving a pedestrian's life or protecting its passengers in event of an impending crash.

"The first priority is to be safe; do not get into any collision,” said Mr Niels de Boer, the programme director of NTU’s Centre of Excellence for Testing & Research of AVs. “Second is comply with the road rules.

“In some cases, the second one cannot be complied with because the car is illegally parked and you need to cross a solid line. In that case, we need to develop, and this is an area for development because we do not have a real answer yet, be it you need to temporarily, effectively violate one of the traffic rules, to get around other obstacles. But no matter what, it needs to be done safely."