Boston Allows Self-Driving Car Testing Citywide

A self-driving car company is getting the green light to test its vehicles on a Colonial-era street network with a reputation for aggressive human drivers.

Boston city officials announced Wednesday that they've granted permission to NuTonomy to test its autonomous vehicles citywide.

Some Boston commuters are optimistic about the self-driving cars.

“I wouldn’t mind trying that... I wouldn’t have to drive,” said one resident.

"I think we ought to give them a chance," Dan Daley said. "It's the new world."

Another commuter, Chris Noonan, agreed.

"I think we give it a shot," he said. "I mean if it doesn't work out we can kind of pull it back a little bit. I think it's worth exploring to see what can happen."

Others, however, are more skeptical.

“I think there’s enough accidents on the road without cars with no drivers," said one woman.

In Boston, the company will take on some of the most complex roads in the country.

Anyone who knows the city knows there's colonial-era roads, traffic, double parking, pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboarders, and construction.

Nationally, self-driving cars have been involved in accidents before, including an Uber that was involved in a deadly accident with a pedestrian in Arizona in March. But NuTonomy says humans account for 94 percent of all serious car crashes in the U.S. 

The company began testing in the city's Seaport District last year but will now expand testing throughout the city. Each autonomous vehicle is required to have a safety driver at the wheel to take control in an emergency.

Boston-based NuTonomy was spun out of a lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is now a subsidiary of auto parts maker Aptiv, based in Dublin, Ireland.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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