Lyft's first self-driving cars to hit the road in Boston

Giving Uber a challenge, the ride-hailing company partners with software company Nutonomy to rollout autonomous vehicles to passengers.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

Soon Bostonians will be able to hail a Lyft ride in a self-driving cars.


Lyft is doubling down on its self-driving car game.

The ride-hailing company said Tuesday it's partnering with autonomous vehicle software company Nutonomy to roll out self-driving cars to passengers in Boston in the next several months.

"We see a future where car ownership is optional and where cities are designed around people instead of cars," Lyft CEO Logan Green said during a conference call with reporters. "The way that we are going to get there is with autonomous vehicles."

Self-driving cars are a hot topic in the auto and tech industries. Automakers from Toyota to Ford to Volvo all have projects in the works. And Silicon Valley giants, including Google, Apple, Intel and Tesla Motors, are betting on the tech.

Lyft's top rival Uber also has an in-shop driverless car project underway. The program is headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and has test pilots in California and Arizona. It's been mired in scandals, however. Uber is facing a major lawsuit from Google over the alleged theft of self-driving car trade secrets, and it has received backlash from lawmakers regarding safety.

Lyft and Nutonomy, which was founded by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said their central focus with self-driving cars is safety. The two companies said they're working with local regulators to ensure they have the necessary permits to drive city streets.

"We're also both safety-first organizations," Green said. "Our goal is make every ride safe, comfortable and reliable… Nutonomy has extensive safety testing around their entire system."

Besides Nutonomy, Lyft has also entered partnerships with General Motors and Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google's parent company Alphabet. Green didn't elaborate on what the GM and Waymo partnerships will entail, but he did say each partnership is "unique and different."

Green also didn't specify an exact date when people will see the Lyft Nutonomy cars cruising Boston's streets. He said they're slowly rolling the cars out, working on research and development, and customers should be able to catch rides within the next several months.

Nutonomy has been testing autonomous vehicles with public riders in Singapore since the summer of 2016. It's using the Renault Zoe electric car for its self-driving system in Singapore -- the same car that passengers will soon be able to catch a ride with in Boston.

"By combining forces with Lyft in the US, we'll be positioned to build the best passenger experience for self-driving cars," Karl lagnemma, CEO and co-founder of Nutonomy, said in a statement. "Both companies care immensely about solving urban transportation issues and the future of our cities."