A self-driving vehicle, photo via GM
General Motors will bring a fleet of self-driving cars to a 5-square-mile section of lower Manhattan early next year, becoming the first company to deploy autonomous cars in New York City. As the Wall Street Journal learned, in partnership with driverless-car developer Cruise Automation, GM’s testing will include an engineer in the driver’s seat to monitor the performance and a second person in the passenger seat. In May, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state began accepting applications from companies interested in autonomous technologies in New York. GM and Cruise’s planned testing will become the first time Level 4 autonomous vehicles will be tested in NYC, getting a head start on making the Big Apple a hub for self-driving cars.
GM’s Cruise Automation has tested more than 100 self-driving cars in other places, but its performance in San Fransisco has laid the groundwork for its work in New York City. Both cities are highly congested with a lot of potentially challenging driving situations, like bad weather or aggressive drivers. These hurdles are expected to improve the technology at a much faster rate than if tested in most other places.
In a press release, Cuomo said driverless cars have the potential to save both time and lives. He added, “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.”
The Department of Motor Vehicles and the State Police will work with GM and Cruise to ensure the vehicles meet safety standards. As a result of talk surrounding GM’s driverless technology, the company’s shares have surged more than 25 percent in two months.
Critics worry the transition to autonomous vehicles will threaten the jobs of thousands of the city’s cab drivers when humans are displaced by this technology. As 6sqft previously covered, shared driverless vehicles could account for a quarter of all miles driven in the United States by 2030. Because New Yorkers own fewer vehicles than residents in any other U.S. city, it’s the current biggest market for ride-hail services and is now becoming the best area for companies to explore this new technology.
- NYC anticipated to become a major hub for self-driving cars
- Uber hopes to bring flying taxis to NYC within five years
- Cuomo approves New York’s first application to test driverless cars on public roads