New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced on Monday that General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) and Cruise Automation, GM’s self driving subsidiary division, are applying to begin the first stages of testing fully autonomous vehicles in New York City by early 2018.
Back in May, Governor Cuomo passed a legislation to receive applications from automotive companies, who manufacture autonomous vehicles, to test and demonstrate the vehicles on open roads.
Fully autonomous vehicles have been in high demand by consumers as well politicians. Both parties believe that self driving vehicles will significantly decrease fatal car accidents. The U.S. House had approved and passed a bill that would ramp up production and deployment of self driving vehicles to combat human error that cause a majority of fatal accidents.
"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," Governor Cuomo said.
GM will deploy self driving Chevrolet Bolt electric cars in 2018 within a geofenced area in lower Manhattan that engineers are currently mapping. Every car will have an engineer in the driver’s seat to evaluate performance and take over manually if something goes wrong.
Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation, said, "Testing 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.”
GM also announced earlier in October its acquisition of Strobe Inc. Strobe joined GM’s Cruise Automation team and the two teams will develop LIDAR technology. LIDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging, and is one of the major key sensors detections used for self driving vehicles.
LIDAR technology can significantly improve a vehicle's detection response and potentially allow for a level 5 autonomous driving, which requires no key parts of a car such as a steering wheel or mirrors. Level 5 autonomous driving would allow for a near perfect errorless driving that will ensure safety to the passengers within the vehicle.
GM is currently working on the solution, but the costliness of this technology makes it very difficult for the company to mass produce vehicles. But, Julie Schoenfeld, Founder and CEO, Strobe, said that the merger of the two companies will bring the autonomous vehicles onto the roads “sooner than many may think.”
"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." said Cuomo.