Boston authorities have approved a plan by self-driving car organization nuTonomy to carry passengers in the Seaport, a service that could start in a matter of weeks.
The proposal comes as nuTonomy reported it has agreed to be obtained by auto part provider Delphi.
Prior this year, nuTonomy and ride-hailing company Lyft said they would partner on a passenger service in Boston. Both companies said yesterday the program would continue despite nuTonomy’s acquisition, but declined to comment on when they would be available.
Like the test autos already driving on city lanes, the passenger cars will have security drivers. They can take the wheel if necessary. They will also only operate in the Seaport district.
Boston Makes Deal with Self-Driving Car Company
Under the terms of the deal amongst Boston and nuTonomy, the company agreed to an initial beta trial of its passenger service, open to a select group of 40 riders. No less than six of those, according to the agreement, will be passengers who experience difficulty getting around, including seniors and those with mobility or vision impairments.
“NuTonomy wants to understand how the system works for everybody, and the city has a desire to make sure whatever the future of transportation looks like, we are providing it to everybody,” Carter said.
After the pilot, passenger service will open to people in general.
Recently, British auto parts provider Delphi said it would buy nuTonomy for as much as $450 million.
NuTonomy will stay in Boston, working as an independent entity.
The company, spun out of MIT, has rebuffed numerous other suitors, according to board member Bob Davis, but decided to sell to Delphi because of the large market opportunity the British outfit has as a provider of parts to auto manufacturers.
NuTonomy CEO Karl Iagnemma said Delphi’s current associations with automakers give it a strong position in an increasingly competitive industry.
“It’s not at all clear to me an upstart startup or even a tech company will be able to address that market,” Iagnemma said. “They can sell to every (manufacturer) globally if they’ve got the technology and relationships.”
The acquisition of nuTonomy will roughly double Delphi’s autonomous driving team to about 200.