GM Wants To Be The First Company To Test Driverless Cars On NYC Streets

Image courtesy of Jeremy Schultz

With its maze of one-way streets, congestion, aggressive taxi drivers, double-parked cars, occasional motorcades, parades, and exploding manhole covers, New York City can be a challenge for even the more skilled drivers. And if General Motors gets its wish, you could soon add driverless to this mix.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this morning that GM and its partner Cruise Automation have applied to start testing self-driving vehicles in Manhattan, as soon as early 2018.

Recent legislation [PDF] that allows the testing of autonomous technology will require engineers in the driver’s seat to keep an eye on things, as well as a second in the passenger seat.

Cruise says that testing in NYC will speed up the deployment of self-driving cars at scale.

The city is “one of the most densely populated places in the world and provides new opportunities to expose our software to unusual situations, which means we can improve our software at a much faster rate,” explains Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt.

Citing the potential for such vehicles to “save time and save lives,” Cuomo says the city is proud to be working with the two companies on driverless tech.

“The spirit of innovation is what defines New York, and we are positioned on the forefront of this emerging industry that has the potential to be the next great technological advance that moves our economy and moves us forward,” he said in a statement.

This will be the first time Level 4 autonomous vehicles — the point at which a human doesn’t have to do anything, or even pay attention — will be tested in the state, Cuomo’s office notes. If successful, this pilot program could lead to more opportunities for future autonomous vehicle ventures in New York.