New York has approved Audi of America’s application to become the first company authorized to perform autonomous vehicle testing in the state, with the first trial due to start in the City of Albany, near the state capitol building, in mid-June.
Audi intends to demonstrate and test vehicles in New York with Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE) Level 3 automation, which means a vehicle that is capable of automated driving at posted highway speeds when specific conditions are met. In New York, two trained engineers will be in the vehicle to monitor the system and ensure safety, one in the front seat and one in the back. Audi’s demonstration A7 vehicle has already safely logged thousands of miles on limited access highways across the USA.
Earlier this month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state was accepting applications from companies interested in testing or demonstrating autonomous vehicles on public roads. New legislation included in New York’s FY 2018 budget allows for testing autonomous technology through a year-long pilot program. Audi’s vehicle routing information for the Albany demonstration has been pre-approved by the New York State Police, and its application was approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). State Police will review the route to be taken, and are required to supervise the demonstration. Each vehicle to be tested must have a US$5m insurance policy in place before it is allowed on public roads.
“We have been leading the way in the development of piloted driving technology for more than a decade now, and testing in real-world environments is a key step in our pursuit of safer roads,” said Scott Keogh, president of Audi of America. “We applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership and stand ready to assist in defining how this future will unfold in the Empire State now, and for years to come.”
Cuomo does not want the state to be ‘left behind’ in the inevitable move toward self-driving transportation systems, and is keen to make New York an epicenter of cutting-edge technology and innovation. Announcing the trials, Cuomo said, “New York State is a nationwide leader in innovative highway safety programs and the potential for autonomous vehicles to save lives on our roadways is immeasurable.”