nuTonomy will expand testing of its autonomous vehicle software on the streets of Boston, the city announced Monday.
nuTonomy has been testing its driverless cars on certain streets in the city’s Seaport District since the beginning of 2017, and its safety record has convinced city officials to let it expand.
“Continuing to test autonomous vehicles in a careful and methodical manner represents another step forward in helping us to achieve the vision for improved mobility that was established by residents during the Go Boston 2030 Transportation Plan public process,” Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement put out by the city. “If deployed thoughtfully, shared fleets of autonomous vehicles could offer the City of Boston the potential to improve safety on our streets, provide equitable connections to (local public transit), and offer a new source of mobility to all Boston residents.”
Trained backup drivers will continue to be in the cars during ongoing testing, and are expected to be able to take over the vehicles when needed. (Related: Uber backup driver may have been watching TV before crash). The company also said it plans to have a test engineer in the passenger seat.
nuTonomy is the first company to be allowed to operate driverless cars on Boston streets citywide. The president of nuTonomy’s parent company, Aptiv Automated Mobility on Demand, noted that the colonial-era city’s narrow and winding streets are more complex than many in newer more grid-like cities.
“Today, we are excited to have access to some of the most complex roads in North America as we continue to focus on improving the safety and efficiency of transportation in cities worldwide,” said Aptiv’s Karl Iagnemma.
nuTonomy was started in 2013 by Iagnemma and Emilio Frazzoli, robotics and automotive researchers at MIT.
The city’s statement said people cause 94 percent of serious crashes and that taking human error out of the eqation could make the city’s streets safer.
nuTonomy has also done more than two years of testing in Singapore.