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Self-driving car to test its skills in Boston as fleet of cars slated to grow beyond Singapore


Boston's notorious drivers who describe turning around as 'banging a u-ie' is also known for its narrow, crowded streets and traffic congestion. The local jargon and difficult driving makes it an ideal testing ground for the MIT-based startup company nuTonomy, which has signed an agreement with the city of Boston to begin testing its growing fleet of self-driving cars in specific areas of the city, the company announced today.

“We’ll see challenges there we haven’t seen before,” says co-founder and CEO Karl Iagnemma. “If you’re in Boston, New York, Singapore, or Phoenix, you have to adapt software accordingly. That might mean slower acceleration, or shorter pauses at stop signs, and system tweaks based on road conditions and local laws.”

The announcement is a big next step for the software company after testing autonomous taxis this past summer in Singapore.

Boston’s notoriously aggressive drivers will help hone the technology like no other place, while its roots are in nearby Cambridge as its autonomous and robotics technology system grew out of research conducted in Massachusetts Institute of Technology labs, run by nuTonomy co-founders Karl Iagnemma and Emilio Frazzoli

“Boston and Massachusetts are leaders in rethinking the future of transportation, and we are grateful for their partnership and support of nuTonomy’s efforts to develop a fleet of self-driving cars to serve the public, Iagnemma said.

“These tests in the city of Boston will enable our engineers to adapt our autonomous vehicle software to the weather and traffic challenges of this unique driving environment. Testing our self-driving cars so near to nuTonomy’s home is the next step towards our ultimate goal: deployment of a safe, efficient, fully autonomous mobility-on-demand transportation service.”

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, which is not exactly in the Hub.

The idea is to prepare Boston for an autonomous vehicle future. The agreement is a boon to the city's Go Boston 2030 transportation planning effort, which aims to make the city's streets safer, more reliable and more accessible.

“Boston is ready to lead the charge on self-driving vehicles, and I am committed to ensuring autonomous vehicles will benefit Boston’s residents," said Mayor Marty Walsh. "This is an exciting step forward, and together with our public and private partners, we will continue to lead the way in creating a safe, reliable and equitable mobility plan for Boston's residents.”

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