Self-driving cars to arrive in Manhattan by 2018

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed that General Motors will lead and conduct tests of autonomous vehicles in the state by early 2018.

In doing so, it will become the first company allowed to test self-driving cars in New York state. However, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is unconvinced by these new tests and especially doubts the idea of self-driving cars in Manhattan.

According to Cuomo, Manhattan will become the first site in New York state where GM will test self-driving cars. GM has already purchased $14 million from its Silicon Valley subsidiary, Cruise Automation.

The company has already requested to test self-driving cars in the borough in early 2018. It has started planning a test location in Manhattan.

Sarah Maslin Nir from The New York Times reported that GM “will submit its full application to the Department of Motor Vehicles, which will then issue any permits. The testing itself will be supervised by the State Police.”

There are different categories of self-driving cars.

A level three  car still requires a steering wheel and an attentive driver if the car experiences problems. A level four car has driverless features and is considered fully automated. A level five car could drive without any human contribution, and as such, has no steering wheel or brakes.

The tests will not feature an empty car.

Both GM and Cruise Automation will begin administering tests in Manhattan with an engineer in the driver’s seat to track the performance, and a second person in the passenger seat.

These tests are allowed by the legislation passed as part of New York’s 2018 budget.

Companies such as Uber have been trying to find success in this new field, but without much luck.

The New York Daily News said that the state only approved GM’s tests after “a General Motors political action committee donated more than $17,000 to Gov. Cuomo three months before” the announcement.

Cuomo’s spokeswoman Dani Lever responded, “Any auto manufacturer who meets [the] DMV’s criteria will be able to test vehicles, so the insinuation that GM was accorded any favoritism is not only obnoxious, but absurd.”

Not everyone favors this new change. The declaration of GM’s ambition to evaluate self-driving cars in Manhattan resulted in a clash between Cuomo and de Blasio. Representatives from the mayor’s office said they were unaware about the aim to evaluate self-driving cars in Manhattan.

Only time and results will tell if the two politicians can work together on this new technology plan.