New York State Ready to Begin Testing Autonomous Vehicles

"While we all are familiar with the idea that self-driving cars will one day likely be commonplace, the reality is that there is a long road ahead before we get there. We need to make sure these vehicles are safely tested on our roads, while providing opportunities for the public to become familiar with this technology," said DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced May 10 that New York is accepting applications from companies interested in testing or demonstrating autonomous vehicles on public roads. This is included in the state's FY2018 budget, a measure allowing for testing autonomous technology through a year-long pilot program, and there is a new Department of Motor Vehicles application process.

"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," he said. "With this action, we are taking a careful yet balanced approach to incorporating autonomous vehicles on our roads to reduce dangerous driving habits, decrease the number of accidents, and save lives on New York roadways."

Applications for testing may be submitted by manufacturers of autonomous vehicle technology or companies creating such technology working with manufacturers. The announcement said all vehicles will have to comply with federal safety standards and all applicable New York State inspection standards, and a​ person holding a valid driver license must be present in the driver's seat at all times when such a vehicle is operated on public highways. Each vehicle to be used must be listed in the application and a $5 million insurance policy must be in place for any vehicles to be tested.

Companies also must submit a report on demonstrations or tests undertaken pursuant to a DMV permit to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles no later than March 1, 2018; the law permitting demonstrations or tests is set to expire April 1, 2018. "While we all are familiar with the idea that self-driving cars will one day likely be commonplace, the reality is that there is a long road ahead before we get there. We need to make sure these vehicles are safely tested on our roads, while providing opportunities for the public to become familiar with this technology," said DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan. "This is a balanced approach consistent with New York’s long track record of highway safety as well as innovation."

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