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Nutonomy's self-driving taxis to start testing in Boston without passengers

Bringing it back home, Nutomony self-driving taxi company will start testing in Boston by the end of 2016, according to TechCrunch. Nutonomy is a spinoff from MIT that has been testing its autonomous vehicles in Singapore since August.

The City of Boston and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation are on board with the project, and are in a working partnership with Nutonomy. “Boston is ready to lead the charge on self-driving vehicles, and I am committed to ensuring autonomous vehicles will benefit Boston’s residents. This is an exciting step forward, and together with our public and private partners, we will continue to lead the way in creating a safe, reliable, and equitable mobility plan for Boston’s residents,” said Boston mayor Martin J. Walsh.

More: MIT’s NuTonomy aims to bring self-driving taxis to Singapore by 2018

You won’t see Nutonomy taxis in Kendall Square or around Harvard Square anytime soon, however, as the testing will be confined to the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park in Boston’s Seaport section. Formerly known as the Boston Marine Industrial Park, the South Boston test area isn’t the same as crowded city streets, but they are public roads. The taxis won’t pick up passengers during testing although engineers will be in the cars to record observations and take control if necessary.

Nutonomy’s test vehicle is an electric Renault Zoe. The company’s tests in Singapore have been in the city’s One-North business district. Working in conjunction with Southeast Asia ridesharing company Grab’s ridehailing app, Nutonomy plans to launch commercial on-demand service in the city in 2018.

According to Nutonomy, “During the Boston road tests, Nutonomy’s software system will learn local signage and road markings while gaining a deeper understanding of pedestrian, cyclist, and driver behavior and interaction across a complex urban driving environment. Nutonomy plans to work with government officials to expand the testing area to other parts of the city in the near future.”

Nutonomy has not made any announcements about partnering with U.S. ridesharing companies to date.