New York City is the latest state to allow companies to test their self-driving vehicle technologies on its streets. Surprisingly, the first company to take advantage of the newfound freedom is not Tesla, Waymo or even Uber. Rather, it's automotive giant General Motors and Cruise Automation, the company's self-driving car tech department.
It's worth noting that New York City's self-driving car testing program is a bit different than what we've seen from other states in the past. Rather than opening the metaphorical floodgates to every self-driving vehicle tech company out there, the city is tightening up its rules - and not everybody is on board just yet.
In addition to the city requiring a round-the-clock police escort for each self-driving vehicle (which the company must reimburse the city for), all test participants are required to cover each of their vehicles with a $5 million insurance policy. A company like General Motors likely has enough resources to make these requirements a non-issue.
Despite these tight restrictions, New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo seems optimistic about the future of autonomous vehicles. In a statement, he claims that "Autonomous vehicles have the potential to save time and save lives," and expressed his interest in working with GM and Cruise Automation on this technology moving forward.
These rules may seem overbearing to some but with the crowded, fast-paced nature of life in New York City and its large number of pedestrians, it makes sense to put safety first. Still, with how tight these rules are, it's unsurprising that the likes of Tesla and Uber are taking a back seat for the time being - but that likely won't last long. The sheer amount of data said companies could obtain from NYC's busy streets could significantly outweigh any potential costs.