BOSTON (CBS) — Boston will now allow for self-driving cars to test drive across the city.
The Boston Transportation Department announced Wednesday that nuTonomy would be expanding their test grounds. For the last year and a half, nuTonomy and Optimus Ride, another company testing self-driving cars, were only driving on streets in the Seaport District.
The city halted its autonomous car testing in March following a deadly accident in Arizona involving a self-driving Uber car.
City officials say nuTonomy has a proven safety record and has already logged 1,000 hours over the last two years in the Seaport District.
A “professionally trained safety driver” will behind the wheel of the self-driving cars at all times, ready to take over if necessary. Additionally, a test engineer is in the car, monitoring its performance, the city said.
“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,” said a statement from the transportation department.
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The city says the long-term goal in this test is to have safer roads. “We know that the human factor plays a huge role in vehicular crashes, and certainly we’ve already seen some driver-assist technology that make our roadways safer and autonomous vehicles are really something that we’re interested in testing to see how they can improve the safety of our roadways,” says Giana Fiandaca, Commissioner of the City of Boston Transportation Department.
Following the approval of the testing plan, the company will have to map the entire city before they can allow their cars outside of the Seaport District, which is expected to take a couple of weeks.
President of nuTonomy Karl Iagnemna told WBZ, “We are proud to be the first and only company authorized to operate autonomous vehicles on public roads citywide in Boston. 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.”
NuTonomoy will update the city with quarterly reports and announce when they are moving into a new neighborhood.