The City of Boston has authorized autonomous vehicle (AV) developer nuTonomy to expand the testing of its self-driving fleet on public streets city-wide, as part of the long-term aim of improving mobility for all its citizens.
Boston is using a mandatory and graduated phase approach as the foundation of its autonomous vehicle testing program. Under the city’s supervision, nuTonomy has been testing on streets in the Seaport District since January 2017 and has a proven safety record.
Creating a policy on the operation of AVs on city streets is a priority of the Go Boston 2030 Transportation Plan, as the authorities consider that the technology is capable of significantly enhancing mobility for Boston residents, particularly for senior citizens and those with disabilities.
Prior to working with the City of Boston, nuTonomy spent almost two years testing its AVs on public roadways in Singapore. In Boston, nuTonomy’s testing began on streets within the Raymond L Flynn Marine Industrial Park, before the geographic testing area expanded to additional public streets in the Seaport District.
This was followed by a pilot program where passengers were transported in nuTonomy vehicles between destinations in the area. The company must comply with all testing safety protocols stipulated by both the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the vehicles must operate within the legal speed limit.
During all on-road tests, a professionally trained safety driver is behind the wheel prepared to take over as necessary. Additionally, nuTonomy, and its parent company Aptiv (formerly Delphi Automotive), uses a test engineer in the passenger seat to monitor system performance.
Testing is taking place both day and night, and during some inclement weather, such as light precipitation, fog, and low temperatures. As part of the expansion process, nuTonomy will continue to supply quarterly reports to the city and to update the Boston Transportation Department when it begins operating in a new neighborhood. Currently, one other company is testing AVs in Boston, with Optimus Ride operating in the Flynn Marine Industrial Park.
“Working collaboratively with nuTonomy over the past two years, we have monitored their progress through the testing process and we are confident in the company’s commitment to safety and to our Go Boston 2030 mobility goals,” said Boston’s Transportation Commissioner, Gina Fiandaca. “As we continue to invest in improving the city’s bicycle infrastructure, adding bus lanes to our streets, and upgrading the quality of our roadways, we are also working to shape the future of mobility to ensure that it works for all of our residents.”
Karl Iagnemma, president of Aptiv Automated Mobility on Demand, commented, “We are proud to be the first company authorized to operate autonomous vehicles on public roads city-wide in Boston. Being recognized by the city for our exceptional safety record is an important milestone for the entire nuTonomy and Aptiv team. 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.”