GM expands self-driving tests to Manhattan

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Just when you thought NY drivers couldn't get any more mindless, General Motors plans to test self-driving cars in lower Manhattan starting next year. The Wall Street Journal reports that a 5-square-mile area in lower Manhattan is the first testing grounds.

Testing on Manhattan's intensely trafficked roads is a coup for GM as seeing how autonomous vehicles handle in congested areas is crucial for making sure self-driving cars can handle not just on more quiet open roads. The test cars are Level 4 vehicles, meaning they are fully self-driving and can operate without a human driver under certain conditions. During its upcoming tests in Manhattan, there will be an engineer in the driver's seat to "monitor and evaluate performance", and a second person in the passenger seat.

Watch out, pedestrians: Self-driving cars are headed to the streets of New York City.

"Strobe's lidar technology will significantly improve the cost and capabilities of our vehicles so that we can more quickly accomplish our mission to deploy driverless vehicles at scale", said Kyle Vogt, founder and CEO of Cruise Automation.

GM said it will expand its Cruise Automation presence in New York by beginning to build a team of employees in New York City.

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The Silicon Valley-based firm, which GM acquired in March 2016 for $1 billion, has also been testing its autonomous driving tech on roads in San Francisco, Arizona, and MI.

"New York has emerged as one of the nation's leading hubs for innovation, and as we invite companies and entrepreneurs to reimagine transportation technology, we will encourage the development of new, safe travel options for New Yorkers, "Governor Cuomo said".

"The spirit of innovation is what defines NY, 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".

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's office sent out a press release confirming this agreement with Cruise Automation. Level 5 is the ultimate in autonomous technology, where not even a steering wheel or pedals are needed.

The company acquired a Lidar technology company named Strobe Inc.

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