GM Gets Ready to Test Self-Driving Cars in NYC

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No word yet on timeframes for consumer-facing deployment, but as Cruise's testing in NYC proceeds, it seems likely the GM subsidiary will replicate its staff-facing prototype on-demand autonomous pick up service in Manhattan, too.

Li Zengwen, a development engineer at Changan Automobile, lifts his hands off the steering wheel as the auto is on self-driving mode during a test drive on a highway in Beijing, China, April 16, 2016.

After testing their all-electric and autonomous Chevy Bolt EV prototypes in California, Michigan, and Arizona, GM's Cruise Automation vehicles are going to New York City to further test their system in a hard traffic environment.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed off on the approvals for GM and Cruise Automation to begin Level 4 autonomous testing in Manhattan.

News of the upcoming tests comes after Audi in June performed New York's first autonomous vehicle demo.

Cruise has applied for a permit, and a spokeswoman for the governor said it was very unlikely that Cruise wouldn't receive approval. This technology could reduce or eliminate the over 1 million deaths caused by cars around the world each year.

But General Motors has made a habit of testings its cars in hard, urban environments.

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Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation, said, "Testing in NY will accelerate the timeline to deploying self-driving cars at scale". "We test in San Francisco only because we have to".

DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan said, "While we all are familiar with the idea that self-driving cars will one day likely be commonplace, the reality is that there is a long road ahead before we get there".

The cars will be programmed to navigate obstacles such as aggressive drivers, construction barriers and bad weather. "Pedestrians don't step in front of human-operated cars because they are not sure the driver will stop - but self-driving cars will not have a choice but to stop", he said in a statement.

There's no consensus over when exactly autonomous vehicles will become common and available for the public to use.

The company acquired a Lidar technology company named Strobe Inc.

Vogt has previously said he believes the technology will arrive in months, rather than years.