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nuTonomy's self-driving cars are headed to Boston

The startup's self-driving Renault Zoe fleet will be hitting specific roads in Massachusetts.


Autonomous car startup nuTonomy has until now limited its efforts to the streets of Singapore. The company is coming Stateside, and like all good pilgrims arriving in the promised land, it's starting in New England.

nuTonomy signed a memorandum of understanding with the city of Boston and the two will work together to implement a small-scale test of the company's autonomous fleet within city limits. During these tests, nuTonomy's electric Renault Zoes will learn US street signs and road markings while increasing its ability to work around cyclists, pedestrians and other cars.

Not only will this help nuTonomy, it'll also help Boston. The city has a transportation plan, Go Boston 2030, which seeks to increase the city's access to transportation while increasing safety and also sustainability. You often hear of self-driving efforts setting up shop on the west side of the US, but Boston thinks it can become a prime destination for autonomous testing.

This won't be some big Wild West free for all. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has a long list of criteria needed to test autonomous vehicles on public roads. Licensing, registrations and inspections will be required of any autonomous car, just as they're required for human-driven vehicles.

What nuTonomy learns here in the US will return to Singapore. The company has plans to unveil a fully autonomous, on-demand transportation service in the island nation in 2018. Its vehicles will likely expand to additional markets after that, which coincides with or beats other manufacturers' autonomy plans.