Gotham gets self-driving cars

Details of the test run are still being ironed out, but each auto will have two people inside to monitor and evaluate the vehicles as they cruise the streets of Manhattan.

Cruise has applied for a permit, and a spokeswoman for the governor said it was very unlikely that Cruise wouldn't receive approval. Detailed 3-D mapping to help the cars navigate the streets has already begun in lower Manhattan, although the companies did not say which specific neighborhoods were involved. This technology could reduce or eliminate the over 1 million deaths caused by cars around the world each year.

The level 4 Bolts would be expected to perform like a human driver in most conditions. In addition to testing in San Francisco, they will also be part of the new New York City fleet. Its cars there have been the victims of a series of fender-benders in the last month amid the rough-and-tumble nature of city driving.

Matt Mincieli, Northeast Region Executive Director for TechNet, a trade association comprised of over 70 of the nation's leading technology companies, said, "Governor Cuomo's announcement of the Cruise Automation partnership proves that New York State is serious about bringing AV technology to the Empire State and taking a leadership role in safely, but aggressively, testing this rapidly evolving technology".

"Testing in NY will accelerate the timeline to deploying self-driving cars at scale", stated Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation. "We believe it's the fastest path toward deploying self-driving cars at scale". The cars are programmed to stop for pedestrians, a habit that hurried New Yorkers may take advantage of, slowing the Bolts from being able to drive at a reasonable speed.

Automakers are jostling with technology companies as the momentum behind driverless cars continues to grow. Cruise will also have to open an office in New York City and hire employees for a new team.

Earlier this week, Bryan Salesky - who leads Ford's self-driving auto program, Argo AI - cautioned that the vehicles wouldn't be ubiquitous on city streets for at least a few years.

  • Joey Payne