General Motors’ self-driving unit, Cruise Automation, announced today that it will begin autonomous Chevy Bolts in New York City. According to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Cruise Automation will be the first to test Level 4 autonomous vehicles in the state. Cuomo’s office said that the testing will occur in Manhattan, where the company will begin mapping a geofenced area.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that you will see an empty car driving around Manhattan. While the testing occurs, there will be an engineer in the driver’s seat to monitor and evaluate performance, and a second person in the passenger seat as well. Cruise Automation will setup an office in New York City, and begin building a team of employees.
“Autonomous vehicles have the potential to save time and save lives, and we are proud to be working with GM and Cruise on the future of this exciting new technology,” Cuomo said in a statement.
GM is the first company that has agreed to New York’s unique rules for self-driving cars. The law only allows a brief window for autonomous vehicle testing before expiring on April 1st 2018. In addition, the self-driving car is required to have a police escort, which is paid by the company. Each vehicle must be covered by a $5 million insurance policy, as well as there needs to be a full list of specific vehicles that will be used for testing. Everything needs to be laid out and specified on the application.
“New York 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,” said Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation.
Usually, when you want companies to come and test in their state, a state would relax some regulations and requirements, but not the Empire State. Only the Empire State requires incredible amounts of oversight. There’s a reason for that, of course. There are incredibly narrow streets, twists, and close turns, to name a few. So there is a big challenge for autonomous cars.