nuTonomy Signs Agreement With Boston To Test Self-Driving Cars On Public Roads


Software developer nuTonomy has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the city of Boston and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation that allows them to test self-driving cars on public streets. The MOU designates specific roadways and conditions of use, but does allow autonomous vehicles on public roadways in parts of Boston.

nuTonomy has been developing autonomous vehicle software for some time and has been using Renault Zoe electric vehicles overseas for the tests (photo above). They will bring some Zoe test vehicles to Boston and test them in the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park area of the Seaport section of Boston.

The Zoe vehicles have been retrofitted with nuTonomy’s software and a suite of high-performance sensing equipment and computing components. The company’s systems grew from research conducted at MIT by nuTonomy co-founders Karl Iagnemma and Emilio Frazzoli.

So far, nuTonomy has tested the Zoe vehicles in Singapore and will make it on-demand there in 2018. They have made a partnership with Grab, the leading ride-hailing app in Southeast Asia. The Boston testing will give the company the chance to Americanize the technology. The MOU follows 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 carefully monitor 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 and CEO of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation