Lyft partners with start-up nuTonomy to deliver driverless ride-hailing service in Boston

By Callum Rivett
Ridesharing company Lyft has added another partner to its team - this time, MIT spin-off company nuTonomy is helping to bring autonomous ride-hailing to...

Ridesharing company Lyft has added another partner to its team - this time, MIT spin-off company nuTonomy is helping to bring autonomous ride-hailing to Boston, where a pilot scheme is likely to pick up its first customers 'in the coming months'.

Massachusetts-based nuTonomy has already found fame after being the first ever company to deliver self-driving taxis to our roads. Their pilot in Singapore was launched in August 2016, with funding from the Singapore Economic Development Board helping in a $16m financing round back in May last year. 

Their test was limited to a 2.5km squared area which had just a small amount of cars on the road, whilst all cars required a nuTonomy engineer to monitor system performance and to take control in situations 'to ensure passenger comfort and safety.'

Lyft revealed in a press call on Tuesday that the two companies would be working together in a 'collaborative, R&D-based partnership' where no money is said to be changing hands, whilst they are both focussed on delivering a safety-first initiative.

Ridesharing company Lyft has added another partner to its team - this time, MIT spin-off company nuTonomy is helping to bring autonomous ride-hailing to Boston, where a pilot scheme is likely to pick up its first customers 'in the coming months'.

Massachusetts-based nuTonomy has already found fame after being the first ever company to deliver self-driving taxis to our roads. Their pilot in Singapore was launched in August 2016, with funding from the Singapore Economic Development Board helping in a $16m financing round back in May last year. 

Their test was limited to a 2.5km squared area which had just a small amount of cars on the road, whilst all cars required a nuTonomy engineer to monitor system performance and to take control in situations 'to ensure passenger comfort and safety.'

Gradually, the vehicles progressed to a busy street near the Boston Convention and Exhibition Centre, with its electric Ren

Lyft revealed in a press call on Tuesday that the two companies would be working together in a 'collaborative, R&D-based partnership' where no money is said to be changing hands, whilst they are both focussed on delivering a safety-first initiative.

nuTonomy has already begun work on implementing the software required into a small number of vehicles to test out their design in the near future, although the target is for ‘thousands’ of autonomous vehicles to be available on Lyft.

The main problem, however, is predicting how passengers will engage with the new system and how they treat the service.

CEO and co-founder of nuTonomy Karl Iagnemma admitted a ‘lack of experience’ in the industry will lead to a learning kerb for both companies.

‘We don’t really know how riders will engage with autonomous vehicles,’ Iagnemma said. ‘Gathering data on how passengers interact with the service before, during and after their ride will be crucial.’

Both Lyft and nuTonomy are working with Boston officials to certify that they can launch with approval from regulators, as well as ensuring that they will meet certain regulations – which the presence of a safety engineer will hopefully encourage.

 

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