Startup company nuTonomy, which has already hit public streets with robot taxis, will begin trying out autonomous vehicles in the city of Boston by year’s end.
The company, financed in part by Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford’s venture fund, announced a deal with the city of Boston and state of Massachusetts to test a Renault Zoe electric car with nuTonomy’s self-driving software on public roads.
“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,” Karl Iagnemma, nuTonomy co-founder, said in a statement.
The tests initially will involve a single car; they will be conducted in the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park, an industrial area in the southern part of the city. Beyond exposing the self-driving system to foul weather, they will help the company sharpen its software’s ability to recognize signage and road markings and gain experience with the complexities of urban driving, including pedestrians and cyclists as well as human motorists.
Iagnemma and co-founder Emilio Frazzoli conceived nuTonomy’s software at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where they influenced the broader development of autonomous driving as a principal research scientist and professor, respectively. Sterling Anderson, who directs Tesla Motors Inc.’s semiautonomous Autopilot system, came out of Iagnemma’s MIT lab.
“The reason we’re able to move quickly is because we’ve made a lot of mistakes already, quite frankly. We’ve been in the trenches at MIT on the research side, and we knew what didn’t work and we had a pretty good sense of what would work,” Iagnemma told an audience last week at the KPMG Automotive Executive Forum held ahead of the L.A. Auto Show.