As it has finally become clear, New York is going to follow those several world cities where manufacturers of self-driving cars have managed to agree with the local authorities and make them their ground for autonomous tests. Today New York is ready to provide their public highways for these purposes.
The reason why it has become possible today can be found not only in some changes in the state budget, but also in withdrawing former limits in the city traffic regulation. Those rules required drivers not to drive their vehicles completely hand-free, but to hold the steering wheel with at least one of the hands. Today that restriction can be avoided for testing self-driving cars, but such cars are to be supervised by police, though. There is an amendment to the state budget, which is still needs to be passed. The testing period is planned to last for one year.
One great thing about this new measure also supposes openness of this new rule to almost any car-maker and any self-driving car manufacturer can apply for using public roads for tests. The only restriction is that the DMV has to approve each of the candidates.
The current measure seems to be extremely promising for such autonomous giants as Waymo and Uber since their activeness in NYC has been rather obvious. The state of New York is densely populated and it is another reason why this area can be attractive for such companies. Here they can practice more in data collection, enhancement of driverless technologies, etc.
The initiative wasn’t liked by many at first. One of the reasons of such negative attitude was that many officials and ordinary residents still see self-driving technologies rather unsafe and unable to be properly working in the dense urban environment. However, right now self-driving cars will be allowed only to public highways, while New York City streets will be still closed for autonomous vehicles.