Lyft and driverless car software company nuTonomy actually had riders in autonomous cars this past week in Boston’s Seaport District.
David Royse | LedeTree
“This follows through on both companies’ commitment to bring nuTonomy self-driving vehicles to the Lyft network in Boston by the end of the year,” Lyft said on its company blog.
nuTonomy makes software it hopes to supply autonomous car makers. It’s been testing in Singapore, and has been testing the cars in Boston as well, with safety drivers in the car, who could take the wheel if needed.
“As the pilot progresses, select Boston passengers in Seaport area will be matched with nuTonomy self-driving vehicles when they request rides through the Lyft app,” nuTonomy said in a press release.
In addition to the safety drivers, the cars have engineers along for the ride. They’re studying the car’s autonomous system as it operates with eyes on improvements.
nuTonomy was started in 2013 by Karl Iagnemma and Emilio Frazzoli, robotics and automotive researchers at MIT.
Iagnemma said last week in an interview with Boston Inno that the idea is to gather information about the experience of rideshare users in driverless cars, in an effort to improve the experience, and to get people – particularly skeptics – used to the whole idea.
“It’s a new technology and it’s an experience many people haven’t gone through yet,” Iagnemma told Boston Inno. “I would encourage people to try to come down and catch a ride.”
Among the technical improvements the company is working on is making the cars more adaptable to temporary, unusual road situations, such as change in the lane alignment due to construction.
nuTonomy was acquired by the former Delphi Automotive for $450 million in October. Delphi, the former parts subsidiary of General Motors, split into two companies recently, with the part of the company that will focus on driverless cars now called Aptiv.