A new partnership between autonomous driving startup Optimus Ride and release estate developer LStar Ventures will see self-driving vehicle access offered up to residents of a new urban development near Boston called Union Point, via a revenue generating last mile commuter and local destination autonomous travel service.
The partnership will see the Union Point neighborhood, which occupies 1,550 acres just over 10 miles south of Boston, loaded out with a fleet provided by Optimus Ride that will operate driverless vehicle service connecting the community to South Weymouth rail station, and also operating within the development itself.
This is possible because Optimus Ride, an MIT spinout company founded by a team of DARPA Urban Challenge competitors and other autonomous driving engineers, has secured a self-driving vehicle test permit from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, giving it the okay to field autonomous cars in the commonwealth.
This represents “the word’s first revenue generation autonomous vehicle pilot program,” according to Optimus Ride, meaning the first in which members of the public will pay for access to a commercial service offering. Waymo has been operating an autonomous test pickup service in Arizona, but it has not been using it to generate revenue from rides thus far.
The goal is to begin picking up passengers with the new service starting in early 2018, according to Optimus and LStar, and to incorporate other smart infrastructure tech into the Union Point development, which is being built from the ground up as a model smart city.