Governor Cuomo wants to test self-driving subways in NYC

July 1, 2019

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During a three-day trip to Jerusalem last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo toured the offices of Mobileye–a supplier of autonomous driving software—with the possibility of applying those same technologies to the MTA. “We have seen tremendous growth in software development for navigational systems to make automobiles safer and more reliable, and if this software works well on the road then we owe it to commuters to test its application for train and rail,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Modernizing the MTA’s signal technology is one of the the agency’s top priorities. Cuomo has been critical of the Communications Based Train Control system (“There’s better technology out there,” he said to the Daily News a few months ago) implemented on the 7 and L lines while advocating for ultra-wideband technology, a higher-tech communications-based train control system that might be more efficient and easier to install, though still unproven.

“The MTA spends millions of dollars on navigational tools, and we want to look beyond the handful of companies who essentially have a monopoly on the rail system to develop a navigation program capable of supporting the 21st-century transit system New Yorkers need and deserve,” Cuomo added in the aforementioned statement.

As the New York Post reported, transit advocates and officials would prefer if Cuomo stayed out of the matter. “Governor Cuomo was on a roll when he got congestion pricing through Albany and hired an accomplished transit executive to run the subways and buses,” said TransitCenter Communications Director Ben Fried. “The best thing he could do for transit riders right now is let the professionals he hired do their jobs, instead of inserting himself into procurement and technology decisions.”

During the same trip, Cuomo hosted an economic development roundtable, where he announced a $2 million partnership agreement with the Israel Innovation Authority for two new programs to strengthen economic development ties between New York State and Israel, including a Smart Cities Innovation Partnership that will share technology, research, talent, and business resources.


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