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Optimus Ride to provide autonomous cars to modern city development

Residents and visitors will be able to experience driverless vehicles to travel within the site and connect to mass transit

Optimus Ride's driverless fleet will be on hand at Union Point
Optimus Ride's driverless fleet will be on hand at Union Point

Boston-based self-driving vehicle start-up, Optimus Ride, has formed a partnership with LStar Ventures, the developer of real estate project Union Point in South Weymouth, to provide driverless transport services for residents of the 1,550-acre Massachusetts community.


The mobility programme, which is thought to be the world’s first revenue generating autonomous vehicle pilot, is expected to begin early next year.


This initiative represents Union Point’s latest effort to evolve the former air base into a living laboratory for smart city technologies and sustainability solutions that benefit all its multi-generational residents.


Earlier in 2017, Optimus Ride announced it had received approval from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to test highly automated vehicles in Massachusetts.


Over the past few months, Optimus Ride has been testing its self-driving vehicles in Raymond L Flynn Marine Park, located along the South Boston waterfront.


Under terms of the 18-month agreement, Optimus Ride will have part of its autonomous vehicle fleet on-site within the Union Point development, located 12 miles south of Boston.


Residents and visitors will be able to experience driverless vehicles to travel within the site and connect to mass transit, specifically the on-site South Weymouth commuter rail station.


Earlier this year, LStar Ventures announced a partnership with GE to install the company’s high-tech street sensors and solar panels as well as other experimental technology in the coming months and years.


“Our team is incredibly excited to be bringing Optimus Ride’s cutting-edge vehicles to Union Point, and we look forward to watching our residents of all ages and backgrounds benefit from this greater mobility access,” said Kyle Corkum, CEO, LStar Ventures.


“This latest deal is an important step in our journey to become one of the world’s leading smart cities that enhances the way our residents live, work and experience Union Point.”


The Union Point site has additional special significance for Optimus Ride’s founding team. In 2007, Sertac Karaman, president, Optimus Ride, and CTO, Albert Huang, were part of the first MIT team that successfully completed the DARPA urban challenge, a competition put on by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US Department of Defence to learn whether autonomous vehicles could manoeuvre through urban settings.


In advance of ultimately finishing the 90km course, Sertac and Albert conducted most of their early testing at what was then the South Weymouth Naval Air Station, trialling early versions of the algorithms that are now commonly used throughout the industry.


“A decade following our success at the DARPA urban challenge, it’s rewarding to have come full circle and be back in South Weymouth,” added Karaman.


“We’re incredibly proud to be deploying this 21st-century transportation system on this site that has now evolved to be one of the world’s most forward-looking communities.”


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