GM and Cruise Automation, the self-driving startup the carmaker acquired in 2016, have been testing self-driving cars in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Cruise is headquartered.
Autonomous Chevy Bolts running Cruise technology will soon arrive in Manhattan, however. New Yorkers could see them in early 2018.
“GM and Cruise are applying to begin testing in Manhattan, where mapping has begun in a geofenced area,” the office of New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement.
“All testing will include an engineer in the driver’s seat to monitor and evaluate performance, and a second person in the passenger seat. In support of this work, Cruise is expanding its presence in New York and will begin building a team of employees in New York City.”
GM’s driverless cars utilize Level 4 autonomy, in which a human occupant simply monitors systems while the vehicle navigates — in the case of the Cruise-equipped Bolts — a precisely mapped environment. This full autonomy is one step away from a Level 5 car that handles all driving duties no matter what the situation.
Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt has previously explained why GM decided to subject its driverless vehicles to testing in San Francisco, a challenging urban area (the company is also testing in Detroit and Phoenix, less difficult places).
New York’s decision is the result of legislation passed earlier this year authorizing autonomous-vehicle testing in the Empire State. Currently, 18 states have laws on the books that allow for testing, with most of the action taking happening in California.
“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,” the governor said.
“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.”
In the same statement, Vogt added that “[t]esting in New York will accelerate the timeline to deploying self-driving cars at scale.”
“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,” he said.