Boston’s self-driving Lyft cars are now in service
Bostonites have a new way to get around the city’s famously contentious streets: robotaxis.
Lyft and autonomous driving company nuTonomy announced their joint pilot program has been cleared by the city’s authorities to begin picking up passengers. The two companies first disclosed their partnership back in June, but had to wait until the city’s regulatory bodies gave it the green light to actually offer Lyft users driverless rides.
The program will begin in Boston’s Seaport district, matching riders looking to travel on routes within the area with driverless cabs. The cars will have human safety operators, like other trials, and the program will emphasize rider education about self-driving cars as one of its major points of focus.
The Boston program is the first time a self-driving company and ride-hailing company have teamed to put robotaxis on city streets in the U.S., since Lyft’s other self-driving pilot, Drive.ai in the Bay Area, still hasn’t commenced.
These Lyft trips won’t be the first self-driving rides in Boston, however; nuTonomy launched its own public passenger pilot in the city last month. The company, which was recently acquired by Delphi, also previously partnered with ride-hailing app Grab for a similar program in Singapore last year.
Boston presents a particularly challenging landscape for autonomous vehicles, with a combination of challenging weather conditions and streets filled with terrible drivers. This type of development is becoming more common in the industry; autonomous programs are expanding beyond more comfortable West Coast climes for difficult test sites in Michigan and New York City.
Autonomous vehicles need to be equipped to handle just about every environment — so Lyft and nuTonomy will give them a chance to prove themselves by sharing the roads with hot-blooded Bostonians to start.