Mayor Adams has opened permit applications for responsible autonomous vehicle testing in New York City, along with the corresponding requirements.

Autonomous vehicle testing in the city will be overseen by the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) and will involve a trained driver behind the wheel at all times.

Waymo's autonomous ride-hailing vehicles
Waymo’s autonomous ride-hailing vehicle

Robust safety requirements have been released for this testing programme and a rigorous permitting procedure has been established. This will ensure that approved applicants are ready to safely and proficiently test their technology in the US’s most challenging urban environment.

Mayor Adams said:

New York City leads the nation in responsible innovation, and we’re continuing to do so with this new autonomous vehicle program. Our streets are vibrant and energetic — and that’s a great thing, but it also means that we need to have strong guardrails and requirements in place on any sort of autonomous vehicles. That’s why we’re implementing these rigorous permit requirements and requiring close collaboration with DOT and our emergency responders, so we can ensure that autonomous vehicle technology works for New York City. This technology is coming whether we like it or not, so we’re going to make sure that we get it right. If we do, our streets can be safer, and our air could be cleaner.

Applicants seeking to test autonomous vehicles in New York City will have to adhere to strict safety protocols. This includes ensuring that test operators are selected and trained appropriately, following best practices outlined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. These practices involve background checks, adequate training on vehicle systems, and providing conducive working conditions for operators.

Additionally, applicants must certify that their vehicles will comply with traffic laws and safety regulations. Detailed information on the level of automation, safety performance, testing history, and permits obtained must be provided. The operators must also have protocols in place to compensate for any system limitations or failures.

What’s more, they must collaborate closely with city departments, such as the Department of Transportation (DOT), Police Department, and Fire Department, regarding emergency vehicle interactions and cybersecurity measures.

DOT will closely monitor testing activities, assess plans, address challenges, and ensure compliance with permit terms, including regular reporting of testing data and incidents during the programme.

DOT Commissioner Rodriguez said:

As autonomous vehicle technology expands across the country, DOT is deploying a robust new permitting process to ensure safe, responsible testing on our city’s streets,” said. “Driver error and distraction plays an all-too-common role in traffic crashes, and autonomous vehicle technology offers potential to improve traffic safety. We look forward to working closely with AV companies that are serious about safely operating on America’s most challenging street network.


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