GM to begin testing self-driving cars in New York in early 2018

General Motors' subsidiary Cruise Automation plans to test fully autonomous vehicles in lower Manhattan.

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General Motors President Dan Ammann (right) with Cruise Automation co-founders Kyle Vogt (center) and Daniel Kan (left).

General Motors will begin testing self-driving vehicles in fully autonomous mode in New York starting in early 2018 -- the first time level 4 autonomous vehicles will be tested in the state.

GM and its subsidiary Cruise Automation are applying to begin autonomous testing in Manhattan. GM and New York State on Tuesday said testing will include an engineer in the driver's seat to monitor and evaluate performance, and a second person in the passenger seat.

Mapping for autonomous vehicles has begun in a geofenced area. GM's ability to test self-driving vehicles in New York State comes from recent legislation to test autonomous technology through a pilot program. Several other states including California and Arizona have similar programs, where automakers and tech giants are testing autonomous vehicles on the road.

"Autonomous vehicles have the potential to save time and save lives, and we are proud to be working with GM and Cruise on the future of this exciting new technology," Governor Cuomo wrote in a statement. "The state hopes testing will cement "New York's role as the hub of autonomous vehicle innovation in the US."

GM said it will expand its Cruise Automation presence in New York by beginning to build a team of employees in New York City. It's not clear how many self-driving cars GM plans to roll out on the street of NYC at the beginning of the test program. It was previously reported the testing will occur in a 5-square-mile section of lower Manhattan.

"Testing in New York will accelerate the timeline to deploying self-driving cars at scale," Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation, wrote in a statement. "New York City is one of the most densely populated places in the world and provides new opportunities to expose our software to unusual situations, which means we can improve our software at a much faster rate."

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