Driverless cars could begin hitting the streets of New York City as soon as early 2018.
General Motors and Cruise Automation have applied to begin testing self-driving cars in Manhattan, where mapping has already started in a geofenced area thanks to legislation recently signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The planned testing would be the first time the so-called Level 4 autonomous vehicles will be tested in the state. The DMV and state police will work with Cruise and GM to make sure all testing meets relevant safety, vehicle and insurance requirements, the governor's office says.
Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation, says testing in New York will accelerate the timeline to deploy 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 at unusual situations, which means we can improve our software at a much faster rate," he said.
Cuomo said he was proud to be working with GM and Cruise on the pilot program.
"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," he said in a statement.
Self-driving cars have been demonstrated before on New York streets: in September, Cadillac deployeds its first coast-to-coast hands-free drive that included New York City roads.
An October 2016 essay in New York magazine exploring the potential cultural, political and economic impacts of the driverless car posited that "since human error accounts for more than 90 perecent of car accidents, each year driverless cars have the potential to save millions of lives. Fewer accidents means fewer traffic jams, and less traffic means less pollution."