Lyft partners with nuTonomy to test self-driving cars for passenger pickup in Boston - Metro US

Lyft partners with nuTonomy to test self-driving cars for passenger pickup in Boston

Courtesy of nuTonomy

Requesting a Lyft in Boston may soon bring you a driverless car.

The ride-hailing company has partnered with Cambridge-based nuTonomy to develop self-driving cars to pick up Lyft passengers.

The collaborative effort will come together in Boston; the pilot will kick off in the coming months and tests will be conducted in the same Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park that was the site of nuTonomy’s first self-driving tests last November.

The autonomous car company has since expanded its self-driving vehicles to rove around the Seaport and Fort Point streets.

As with nuTonomy’s testing procedure, an engineer will ride along to observe the self-driving car and take over controls if needed.

“By combining forces with Lyft in the U.S., we’ll be positioned to build the best passenger experience for self-driving cars,” said Karl Iagnemma, CEO and co-founder of nuTonomy, in a statement. He added that that both companies “care immensely about solving urban transportation issues and the future of our cities.”

Uber has already been in the self-driving ride-hailing game for a few months. Their driverless pickup option started in Arizona in February (and made headlines again at the end of March when a self-driving Uber there was involved in a high speed crash), and the company has engineers in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto working on autonomous technology.

Lyft isn’t dispatching their own engineers like Uber, as the New York Times points out, but instead making multiple partnerships with those already working on self-driving initiatives.

Lyft and Waymo, the self-driving car development company under Google’s parent company, are also working together to bring about the autonomous tech, the Times reported in May.

The Lyft and nuTonomy partnership still has to figure out logistics like regulations; the pilot would need approval from both MassDOT and the city.

Both the city and the state have worked toward implementing autonomous technology — Mayor Marty Walsh announced a partnership with the World Economic Forum in September to create policies and support the production of self-driving cars, and Gov. Charlie Baker signed an executive order in October to create a working group on the implementation of such vehicles. 

However, the additional detail of carrying passengers means the memorandum of understanding the city has with nuTonomy to allow its testing needs to be revised. 

A spokesperson from the mayor’s press office said that the city looks forward to working through the process with nuTonomy and with state officials “as we continue to prioritize safety in the exploration of autonomous vehicles.”

The companies said the testing is to ensure “comfort and safety” for passengers at all steps of an autonomous vehicle ride, from booking to driving performance to how the system can interact and communicate with the passengers.

“At Lyft, we imagine a world where car ownership is optional and cities are designed for people instead of cars,” said Logan Green, CEO and co-founder of Lyft, in a statement. “Partnering with nuTonomy is an important step towards making this vision a reality.”

The self-driving car company has also been testing its tech in Singapore since last August and plans to launch a “self-driving mobility-on-demand service” there in 2018. 

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