Cruise's planned testing would be the first time Level 4 autonomous vehicles will be tested in New York State. Such tests were recently made legal with legislation passed as part of New York's 2018 budget.
General Motors and Cruise Automation continue their push for a leadership position in autonomous vehicle development, securing approval from the State of NY to begin Level 4 testing in the Empire State.
Cruise Automation, the self-driving arm of General Motors, said it will begin testing its Chevy Bolts in Manhattan in early 2018. No word yet on timeframes for consumer-facing deployment, but as Cruise's testing in NYC proceeds, it seems likely the GM subsidiary will replicate its staff-facing prototype on-demand autonomous pick up service in Manhattan, too.
But the movement to allow driverless cars has been limited by several high-profile accidents, including the death previous year in Florida of a man who crashed a Tesla vehicle that was on autopilot; it is not yet known if the technology was the cause of the accident.
"Testing in NY will accelerate the timeline to deploying self-driving cars at scale", said Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt, in a press release.
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"Testing in NY will accelerate the timeline to deploying self-driving cars at scale", says Kyle Vogt, CEO of GM'sCruise Automation in a statement. Alphabet ( GOOGL ), like GM, is testing self-driving cars in California and Arizona. "We test in San Francisco only because we have to". Cruise and GM didn't immediately say how many vehicles will be operating in NY.
Cruise also plans to set up an office in NY as part of its testing. But rival companies have said they could be on the road in about four years. "Any new technology, no matter how innovative, needs to be tested and evaluated appropriately and the State Police will perform its due diligence to oversee this process and ensure its effectiveness".
Tech companies have been advocating for autonomous vehicles, citing their fuel efficiency and theoretical aversion to accidents.
The cars will be programmed to navigate obstacles such as aggressive drivers, construction barriers and bad weather.
Bart Selman, a professor of computer science at Cornell University who specializes in artificial intelligence, said the New York City field test would help develop the technology, but warned there are still some serious learning curves, especially when it comes to pedestrians.