Earlier this week two big things happened in regards to NYC roads: Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan to ease traffic congestions on the city’s notoriously cramped streets, and GM announced they will soon test their Level 4 driverless cars in the city. Wait, what?
Both sound like good news but something about testing out driverless cars in such a highly populated and congested city sounds, well, terrifying. So let’s start with the
good, better, less scary news.
The mayor’s five-point plan includes restrictions on curbside deliveries during peak rush-hour times in highly congested areas (such as Midtown Manhattan) and additional NYPD officers enforcing traffic laws in particularly problematic areas. Aside from issuing fines for those who don’t abide by the rules of the road, Bill de Blasio plans to target the issue of highway congestion as well by working with state officials on a solution. However, his new plan doesn’t sound too promising of a solution—but fingers crossed we’re wrong about that.
Now to the somewhat more nerve-racking news. General Motor’s self-driving car will be tested in New York City’s Lower Manhattan area beginning early next year. Although it would sound to most like a terrible idea, the announcement claims the vehicles will have people inside them.
All testing will include an engineer in the driver’s seat to monitor and evaluate performance, and a second person in the passenger seat.
At least that puts us a bit more at ease when it comes to the thought of these massive machines roaming around our densely populated city. The CEO of Cruise Automation, Kyle Vogt, had this to say about the special program:
Testing in New York will accelerate the timeline to deploying 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 to unusual situations, which means we can improve our software at a much faster rate.
Not sure how we feel about being the guinea pig, but hopefully this will help the engineers perfect these machines before they start hitting our roads in masses.
2018 is already shaping up to be an interesting year…
Featured image source: Pixabay