Boston to Begin Testing Self-Driving Cars in the Seaport

Mayor Walsh announced a deal with Cambridge's nuTonomy.

Photo via Mayor's Office

Photo via Mayor’s Office

Self-driving cars are coming to Boston sooner than you may think.

The city inked a deal with Cambridge’s nuTonomy to begin testing its autonomous vehicles at the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park, née Boston Marine Industrial Park, in the Seaport by the end of 2016.

“Boston is ready to lead the charge on self-driving vehicles, and as Mayor of Boston, I am committed to ensuring autonomous vehicles will benefit Boston’s residents,” Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement Monday. “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.”

nuTonomy, which garnered $16 million in venture funding in May, was spawned from the MIT labs run by co-founders Karl Iagnemma and Emilio Frazzoli. Their self-driving electric cars—a Renault Zoe, to be exact—have been tested on roads in three continents since 2014, with the largest such test in Singapore.

“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,” Iagnemma said. “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.”

As per the executive orders signed by Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker last month, a human driver will be required to ride along in the self-driving cars in case anything goes wrong, and the vehicles must be clearly marked.