Autonomous Vehicle Testing Program to Launch in New York City

Mayor Eric Adams and the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez have announced the introduction of a new permit program aimed at overseeing the testing of autonomous vehicles (AV) in New York City. This program is part of the city’s initiative to ensure the safe and responsible exploration of AV technology on its bustling streets. With safety as the primary concern, the program mandates that a trained driver must be present behind the wheel of any AV being tested, ready to take control at any moment.

Highlighting New York City’s commitment to innovation, Mayor Adams emphasized the importance of incorporating strong safety measures and collaborative efforts with the DOT and emergency services. “As we embrace the advent of autonomous vehicles, our focus is on making our streets safer and our air cleaner. We’re setting high standards for this technology to benefit our city,” Mayor Adams stated.

The permit application process requires companies to demonstrate their readiness for testing in New York’s challenging urban environment through detailed plans for technology deployment and safety. This includes showcasing prior testing experience, technological capabilities, and comprehensive safety plans detailing how the technology will be safely operated on city streets.

Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi pointed to the autonomous industry’s potential to create good, upwardly mobile jobs and emphasized the city’s proactive approach to regulate AV technology beneficially. “We’re preparing New York City for the future of autonomous transportation, ensuring it aligns with our vision for a safer, more sustainable, and equitable transportation system,” Joshi commented.

Companies interested in participating in the program must meet stringent criteria, including following industry best practices for the recruitment and training of safety drivers, obtaining approval from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, and coordinating closely with the city’s emergency services. They must also comply with cybersecurity best practices and provide detailed reports on the automation level and safety performance of their AV technology.

Commissioner Rodriguez shared his optimism about the potential benefits of AV technology, such as reducing traffic-related accidents caused by human error. “We’re looking forward to partnering with companies that are serious about contributing to our city’s safety and innovation,” he said.

The announcement has been met with enthusiasm from leading figures in the autonomous vehicle industry, including Waymo. Michelle Peacock, Waymo’s global head of public policy, commended the city’s initiative. “New York City’s commitment to driving innovation while improving transportation for its residents aligns with our goals. We’re excited to continue our work with the city, bringing our autonomous vehicle technologies to more communities,” Peacock expressed.

This new permit program represents a crucial step for New York City towards accommodating autonomous vehicles, promising to pave the way for a future where technology and safety go hand in hand in enhancing urban transportation.

Image: Waymo