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City of Boston's autonomous vehicle testing program to expand

June 20, 2018

Transportation

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Transportation

The ongoing initiative reinforces Go Boston 2030's commitment to improve mobility for all Boston residents.

The City of Boston announced today that nuTonomy (an Aptiv company), a leader in the development of autonomous vehicle software, has been authorized to expand testing on City of Boston streets city-wide. The City of Boston utilizes 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 autonomous vehicles on City of Boston streets is a priority of the Go Boston 2030 Transportation Plan as the technology is capable of significantly enhancing mobility for Boston residents, particularly for senior citizens and people with disabilities.

“Continuing to test autonomous vehicles in a careful and methodical manner represents another step forward in helping us to achieve the vision for improved mobility that was established by residents during the Go Boston 2030 Transportation Plan public process,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “If deployed thoughtfully, shared fleets of autonomous vehicles could offer the City of Boston the potential to improve safety on our streets, provide equitable connections to the MBTA, and offer a new source of mobility to all Boston residents.”

“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 Transportation Commissioner Gina N. 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.”

“We are proud to be the first company authorized to operate autonomous vehicles on public roads city-wide in Boston,” said Karl Iagnemma, president of Aptiv Automated Mobility on Demand. “Being recognized by the City for our exceptional safety record is an important milestone for the entire nuTonomy and Aptiv team. Today, 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.”

Human factors account for 94% of serious crashes in the US. Last year, 14 people were killed in the City of Boston as a result of vehicle crashes and over 40,000 people were killed in the United States. Autonomous vehicles offer one potential solution to reduce the number of crashes on our roadways in addition to the engineering, enforcement, and education programs already underway in the City of Boston.

Prior to working with the City of Boston, nuTonomy spent almost two years testing autonomous vehicles 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 at all times. In all cases while testing, a professionally trained safety driver is behind the wheel prepared to take over as necessary. Additionally, nuTonomy, and its parent company Aptiv, utilizes a test engineer in the passenger seat to monitor system performance. Each vehicle is equipped with a suite of sensors that provide a 360-degree view of the surroundings. Testing may occur in both day and nighttime hours, and during some inclement weather, such as light precipitation, fog, and low temperatures.

As part of the upcoming expansion process, nuTonomy will continue to supply quarterly reports to the City and to update the Boston Transportation Department each time it begins operating in a new neighborhood of Boston. Currently, one other company is testing autonomous vehicles in the City of Boston. Optimus Ride is operating in the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Industrial Park.

For more information on the City of Boston’s Autonomous Vehicle Testing Program, visit: boston.gov/boston-av