Ride-hailing company Lyft will soon begin picking up customers in self-driving cars in Boston, when it begins working through a research partnership with autonomous vehicle startup NuTonomy.
The companies said on Tuesday that they will collaborate to study human interactions with self-driving cars. NuTonomy is already testing autonomous electric vehicles in certain neighborhoods in Boston, the company's hometown.
"The first stage of the partnership is focused on research and development on passenger experience," said Lyft CEO Logan Green during a call with reporters on Monday. "The next stages could lead to thousands of NuTonomy cars on the Lyft platform."
Green said the pilot will begin in "coming months," and the companies are in discussions with Boston regulators to set a date.
NuTonomy does not build cars. Instead, it is developing self-driving software for use in autonomous vehicle fleets. Karl Iagnemma, the company's CEO, said the pilot will use Renault Zoe electric vehicles integrated with NuTonomy's platform and Lyft's network.
NuTonomy has also been testing self-driving cars and a ride-hailing pilot in Singapore, with the goal of introducing an autonomous taxi service in 2018.
The partnership with NuTonomy follows reports of Lyft's deal with Waymo -- which began offering rides in its self-driving cars to Arizona residents in April -- to collaborate on product development and other projects. Lyft is also working with General Motors to deploy a fleet of autonomous electric vehicles in 2018.
Green said each of Lyft's partnerships is "unique and different" and that the company's work with NuTonomy will not affect previous agreements.
Lyft competitor Uber has been performing public tests of its internally developed self-driving technology since September, picking up customers in autonomous prototypes in Pittsburgh and Arizona.