Earlier this month, we reported that General Motors believes testing its autonomous technology on the crowded streets of San Francisco gives it an advantage over other companies that choose to test in the quiet suburbs. If that’s true, then GM will soon have an even bigger advantage. Because it’s about to take its self-driving cars to the streets of New York City.
Reuters reports that GM will begin testing its fully autonomous cars in New York state early next year. GM’s autonomous tech division, Cruise Automation, will be the first company to test Level 4 autonomous vehicles on New York’s roads. But it won’t test exclusively on highways or in rural areas. These cars will be tested on the overcrowded streets of Manhattan.
Level 4 technology is one step more advanced than what Cadillac’s fantastic Super Cruise system offers, and in most scenarios, it should be able to handle driving without human intervention. Still, GM will have two people in the cabin to monitor the cars while driving. Considering how busy NYC is, that’s probably a good thing. But if Cruise’s autonomous cars can handle all the potholes, erratic drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and lane closures that Manhattan has to offer, it’s hard to imagine any other place in the U.S. where the technology wouldn’t work.
Of course, there’s still the issue of inclement weather to deal with. At the moment, snow and rain storms are still major obstacles blocking autonomous tech from going mainstream. But NYC has plenty of that to offer, as well, so perhaps GM will be able to kill two birds with one stone by testing there.