On Monday, autonomous vehicle software startup nuTonomy announced a partnership with officials of the city of Boston that would allow the company to bring its self-driving cars to the city’s streets. Starting later this year, NuTonomy will begin testing its self-driving Renault Zoe electric cars in an industrial park in South Boston.
NuTonomy’s Boston setup is similar to its tests in Singapore, where its self-driving cars operate within a 1.5-square-mile section dubbed North 1. Singapore’s Land Transport Authority designated North 1 as a test site for self-driving cars. Unlike other self-driving car tests, nuTonomy’s cars will be operating in a somewhat closed-off space from pedestrians and traffic.
“Boston is ready to lead the charge on self-driving vehicles, and I am committed to ensuring autonomous vehicles will benefit Boston’s residents. This is an exciting step forward, and together with our public and private partners, we will continue to lead the way in creating a safe, reliable and equitable mobility plan for Boston’s residents,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh in a statement.
During the Boston tests, an engineer from NuTonomy will ride in the self-driving cars for monitory purposes. The vehicles will not be picking up or dropping off any passengers, at least not yet. The startup is currently partnering with Southeast Asia-based ride-hail company Grab in Singapore, but it will likely be harder to strike up a deal with an American ride sharing company.
For nuTonomy, the tests are a way to provide its unique software a chance to learn local road signs and markings, as well as gain a deeper understanding of driver, cyclist, and pedestrian behaviors in a complicated urban environment. “Testing our self-driving cars so near to nuTonomy’s home is the next step towards our ultimate goal: deployment of a safe, efficient, fully autonomous mobility-on-demand transportation service,” said nuTonomy CEO Karl Iagnemma in a statement.
NuTonomy is an MIT spin-off that is known for its state-of-the-art self-driving cars and autonomous mobile robots.It was founded in 2013. The startup joins other companies testing out self-driving technology in cities across the U.S. Ride-hailing giant Uber is currently operating its cars in Pittsburgh, offering rides to residents since September. Alphabet Inc.’s (GOOGL - Free Report) Google division has been testing its autonomous cars throughout Austin, Texas, Mountain View, California, and Kirkland, Washington. Both companies are testing their cars in Arizona as well.
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