nuTonomy, developer of software for self-driving cars, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Boston and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation that authorizes nuTonomy to begin testing its growing fleet of self-driving cars on specific public streets in a designated area of Boston.
nuTonomy will begin testing its self-driving Renault Zoe electric vehicle before the end of the year in the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park in the Seaport section of the city. nuTonomy outfits its vehicles with a software system which has been integrated with high-performance sensing and computing components to enable safe operation without a driver. The company’s autonomous and robotics technology system grew out of research conducted in MIT labs run by nuTonomy co-founders Karl Iagnemma and Emilio Frazzoli.
The testing in Boston will enable nuTonomy to build on the knowledge it has gained from the public road tests and public trials it has been conducting in Singapore’s one-north business district. nuTonomy plans to launch its self-driving mobility-on-demand service in Singapore in 2018. (Earlier post.)
During the Boston road tests, nuTonomy’s software system will learn local signage and road markings while gaining a deeper understanding of pedestrian, cyclist, and driver behavior and interaction across a complex urban driving environment. nuTonomy plans to work with government officials to expand the testing area to other parts of the city in the near future.
The MOU follows the Executive Orders issued in October by Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker that direct the development of an on-street testing process. The City of Boston will be able to monitor carefully the effects of autonomous vehicles, and will further identify how autonomous vehicles will further the safety, access, and sustainability goals of Boston’s transportation plan, Go Boston 2030.
As companies look to begin testing autonomous vehicles, MassDOT will work through the AV Working Group created by Massachusetts Executive Order No. 572 to manage a rigorous approval process and respective safety protocols. Criteria and credentials needed for testing will be thoroughly evaluated, such as a private company’s demonstrated experience, licensing, inspection and registration status in order to ensure the safety of the public.—Stephanie Pollack, Secretary & CEO of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation
nuTonomy will monitor and evaluate the performance of its software system throughout this testing phase. An engineer from nuTonomy will ride in the vehicle during testing to observe system performance and assume control if needed.
nuTonomy recently forged a partnership with Grab, Southeast Asia’s leading ride-hailing app, to support the expansion of nuTonomy’s on-going public trial of self-driving cars in Singapore, the first such public trial in the world. The trial is giving select Grab users a chance to experience the full end-to-end experience of e-hailing and riding in a nuTonomy self-driving vehicle in and around Singapore’s one-north business district. nuTonomy has also been named an R&D partner by the Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA), to support the development of a commercial AV service in Singapore.
In May, nuTonomy completed a $16-million Series A funding led by Highland Capital Partners of Cambridge, MA that included participation from Fontinalis Partners, Signal Ventures, Samsung Ventures, and EDBI, the dedicated corporate investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board.