Boston seaport becoming a testbed for autonomous vehicles

Private parties owning lots in Boston’s Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park have been enabling autonomous vehicle testing on their property for the past year. The land was paved, yet undeveloped. This made it a perfect testbed for autonomous vehicles.

This enabled companies working to perfect autonomous car technologies to test their creations in a controlled environment away from normal traffic.

Tom Miller, the vice president of Kavanaugh Advisory Group, told the Boston Herald: “We think it’s a great adventure, we think it’s a great idea, and if an opportunity comes and we have a location where we could do it again, we’d do it in a heartbeat.”

This opportunity wouldn’t last forever and is already seeing its close. Ground broke recently at the Tide Street site, which put a halt to autonomous testing.

Does this mean autonomous vehicle testing is done for in Boston? Not entirely. City and state officials are already examining ways to enable autonomous vehicles to test on public streets. This approval could happen within the year, and MassDOT is expected to release more information about these plans in the next several weeks.

Heightened driverless interest in Massachusetts

Private landholders aren’t the only ones interested in helping push autonomous vehicle technologies. Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts has also been investigating how self-driving cars can help the blind travel easier.

For the blind, the ability to travel is limited to having a driver or access to public transportation. Having a self-driving car that can operate entirely autonomously enables the blind a freedom to travel distances at will, solo.

Other companies with interest in promoting autonomous vehicles in Massachusetts include Toyota. The automaker has been participating in a $25 million effort with MIT to map the Cambridge area in preparation for autonomous vehicles.

Autonomous vehicle company Optimus Ride has also been testing its technologies in Mass.  Optimus Ride is among a host of companies that are offering technologies to aid in the forming of new smart cities. Undoubtedly, encouraging more states like Massachusetts to adopt a smart-technologies friendly platform is in the company’s best interest.

Autonomous vehicle projects are coming to Massachusetts. It’s up to the regulators and officials to get on board with it. Once it does, the financial and social benefits will provide a welcome boost to the state.

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