World's first self-driving taxis debut in Singapore

The world's first self-driving taxis will be picking up passengers in Singapore starting Thursday.

Select members of the public will be able to hail a free ride through their smartphones in taxis operated by nuTonomy, an autonomous vehicle software startup based in Massachusetts and Singapore.

Multiple companies have been testing self-driving cars on public roads for several years. But nuTonomy says it will be the first to offer rides to the public.

The taxis only operate in a 2.5-square-mile district called "one-north," and there are specified pick-up and drop-off points.

Each one has a driver in front who is prepared to take back the wheel and a researcher in back who watches the car's computers.