BOSTON (CBS) – Several cities and towns in Massachusetts will join Boston in testing self-driving cars.
Governor Charlie Baker and several state and local authorities signed a “memorandum of understanding” Thursday that expands testing of autonomous cars outside of the city and into 14 other communities.
Arlington, Boston, Braintree, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Newton, Revere, Somerville, Weymouth, Winthrop and Worcester are all part of the agreement. The Department of Conservation and Recreation, which oversees state-owned parkways, will also be in the expanded testing.
The agreement essentially creates a standardized process for companies that want to test self-driving cars in Massachusetts.
NuTonomy has been testing its five-car fleet in the Seaport District since early 2017. They were given permission Wednesday to expand all over Boston in the next few weeks.
Critics of the self-driving cars are worried about safety and situations where driving can be complex. NuTonomy says each of its cars always has a backup driver and an engineer during test rides. Karl Iagnemma, president of nuTonomy, told WBZ-TV their vehicles are like human drivers in that they get better and safer when you expose them to more challenging and complex driving situations.
“I’ve had several people tell me, you have a lot of really smart people (in Massachusetts) but you’ve got a lot of really bad weather, you’ve got an incredibly complicated road system and your drivers, well let’s just say they’re enthusiastic,” Baker said at Thursday’s event at MassRobotics in Boston. “We will learn faster by having an opportunity to spend some time on the roads here in Massachusetts.”