New York greenlights autonomous-car testing, seeks applications from firms

new york state self driving cars busy driver
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New York is finally pulling out of the parking lot and joining a growing number of states that allow testing of autonomous vehicles on their roads.

While permission to accept self-driving cars on its highways was granted by local lawmakers in April, Governor Andrew Cuomo this week announced that New York is now ready to receive applications from tech firms and automakers looking for new environments in which to try out their autonomous kit.

Officials are evidently taking things slowly, as the green light for testing will switch to red in April 2018 in accordance with rules laid down last month. Cuomo describes it as a “careful yet balanced approach” to bringing autonomous vehicles to the state’s roads, though the testing period could be extended beyond a year if no major mishaps are reported during the trial period.

The Empire State follows others such as California, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Nevada that for some time have allowed the testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads.

A slew of companies — among them Google’s Waymo, Uber, Tesla, and Ford — are currently trying out their autonomous tech in everyday traffic conditions across the United States, with some of these now expected to hang a right into New York before long.

As you’d expect, companies planning to trial their tech on New York’s roads will have to ensure their vehicles meet federal safety standards as well as all applicable inspection standards. In addition, the driver’s seat must be occupied at all times by a person with a valid license just in case the car’s onboard computer pulls a wrong move, or if a human driver in another vehicle pulls an equally wrong move and ends up smashing into the self-driving car, as does occasionally happen. Testing close to schools and construction sites is prohibited, and a $5 million insurance policy has to be in place for any vehicles tested.

“New York has emerged as one of the nation’s leading hubs for innovation, and as we invite companies and entrepreneurs to reimagine transportation technology, we will encourage the development of new, safe travel options for New Yorkers,” Cuomo said in a release.