Starting in early 2018, Manhattan's usual gridlock traffic will have something new to contend with: self-driving cars. A fleet of Chevy Bolts will be led by Cruise Automation, the self-driving unit of General Motors, within a 5-mile area in New York City — a major change from the Empire State's previously strict regulations on autonomous vehicles.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that the testing will happen in a geofenced area, and that each car will drive with engineers in both the driver's and passenger's seats. The Verge reports that there are still plenty of rules in place for the tests; GM is required to pay for a police escort for each self-driving car the company sends onto the roads. The timeframe is short, too, as the one-year pilot program that Cuomo announced in May expires April 1, 2018.
"Testing in New York will accelerate the timeline to deploying self-driving cars at scale," said Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation. Vogt explained the choice in a statement from Cuomo's office, describing Manhattan as a place that "provides new opportunities to expose our software to unusual situations, which means we can improve our software at a much faster rate."
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New York's street congestion, which includes everything from aggressive pedestrians to speeding cabs, is sure to be a challenge for GM, but current testing in San Francisco means that the vehicles have had some practice in cramped, urban environments.
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