Having beaten Uber and Volvo to the punch with its world-first autonomous taxi service trial in Singapore, nuTonomy is now set to carry out trials in the US. The autonomous driving software firm says it will hit the roads in Boston, Massachusetts, this year.
NuTonomy has signed a memorandum of understanding with the City of Boston and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation that allows it to test autonomous vehicles on certain public streets at the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park industrial area. It hopes to have the testing area expanded to cover other parts of Boston soon.
The testing will allow nuTonomy's software to learn the local road signs and markings and help it to develop its understanding of pedestrian, cyclist and driver behavior. It will also allow nuTonomy to monitor and evaluate the performance of the software. A Renault Zoe electric vehicle equipped with self-driving hardware and the firm's own software will be used for the trial, with an engineer in the driver's seat at all times to take control of the vehicle if need be.
"These tests in the City of Boston will enable our engineers to adapt our autonomous vehicle software to the weather and traffic challenges of this unique driving environment," says CEO and co-founder of nuTonomy Karl Iagnemma in a press release. "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." nuTonomy, an MIT spin-out, is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
For Boston's part, the trial will allow it to explore what effects autonomous cars will have as they take to the city's streets and how they might impact the safety, access and sustainability goals of the city's "Go Boston 2030" transportation plan.
"Boston is ready to lead the charge on self-driving vehicles, and I am committed to ensuring autonomous vehicles will benefit Boston's residents," says mayor Martin J. Walsh. "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."
NuTonomy plans to launch its self-driving taxi service in Singapore in 2018.