Grab President Ming Maa said in a recent interview in Tokyo that the company wants to commercialize its robo-taxi service. The plan, says Maa, will begin "definitely earlier" than 2022, which is around the same time a French automaker, Renault is expected to launch a similar service. "It will be earlier than consumers expect," said Maa.
Operational in eight countries in Southeast Asia, Grab is the largest ride-hailing service in Southeast Asia and the third-largest in the world after its Chinese peer Didi Chuxing and U.S.-based Uber Technologies, according to Maa.
Singapore is the likeliest place for Grab to launch the new service. Maa said the Singapore government is the "most progressive in supporting autonomous vehicles" and has been quick at making regulatory changes to allow for new technologies.
Operating autonomous taxi services is one step toward offering an integrated transportation platform, Maa said. Grab wants to offer rides on anything from taxis and motorbikes to shuttle buses and shared cabs so that it can reach areas where the roads are poor and infrastructure underdeveloped. "Autonomous vehicles can connect the passengers that live in remote locations [where] public transportation is somewhat limited," said Maa.
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