Automation: Self-driving Cars Will Be Tested in Diverse New York City
October 18, 2017, 09:42 AM
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General Motors announced that it would begin testing its self-driving cars in New York City next year which shows a high degree of confidence, given the level of density and human randomness.

Usually at this point I would point out the job loss that will result with all those automated autos which would naturally be cabs in NYC. But self-driving cabs may be an improvement over the sort of taxi service now available. A report from last year noted an increased diversity of language:

English No Longer Required for New York City Cab Drivers, VoxNews, Aug 20, 2016

Taxi drivers in New York City, a largely immigrant community, are no longer required to know English.

A bill approved by the City Council in April, which went into effect Friday, allows taxi license tests to be administered in foreign languages.

New York City’s taxi industry has been dominated by foreign-born drivers for decades – only 4 percent of current New York cab drivers were born in the U.S., according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

And it’s not like those foreign cabbies are responsible drivers who take safety seriously. One remembers cabbie carnage on New York streets like the Bangladeshi Mohammed Faysal Himon who caused young British tourist Sian Green to lose her leg. Himon became angry at a bike rider and swerved onto a crowded Manhattan sidewalk, hitting Green as she was eating a hot dog with a friend. Despite concluding he was emotionally unsuited to driving a taxi in the big stressful city, the dangerous foreign cabbie was back at the wheel a few months later.

An even more shocking accident caused the death of Sixty Minutes journalist Bob Simon. The limo driver in the preventable crash was Abdul Reshad Fedahi, an Afghan immigrant with nine license suspensions and only one functioning arm.

So self-driving cabs sound like a major improvement. Surely they are programmed not to drive on sidewalks.

GM will test self-driving cars in New York City, CNN Money, October 17, 2017

Self-driving cars will soon take on perhaps their biggest challenge yet: driving in New York City.

Cruise Automation, the self-driving arm of General Motors, announced Tuesday it will begin testing its Chevy Bolts inside five square miles of Manhattan in early 2018.

Testing in New York had previously been limited, due in part to a state regulation requiring drivers to keep a hand on the wheel at all times.

But in May, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a one-year pilot program to allow for testing of fully self-driving vehicles on public roads.

Cruise has applied for a permit, and a spokeswoman for the governor said that after months of conversations with Cruise the company is on a likely track toward receiving approval.

Leaders around the country are clearing the way for autonomous vehicles technology given the expected safety benefits. Car crashes are overwhelmingly caused by human error and there were more than 37,000 deaths caused by U.S. motor vehicle crashes in 2016.

Many experts expect self-driving vehicles to first be available to the public in Arizona, due to favorable weather and simpler road conditions. There are fewer pedestrians and cyclists to worry about in suburban settings.

But General Motors has made a habit of testings its cars in difficult, urban environments. It already tests in downtown San Francisco. Its cars there have been the victims of a series of fender-benders in the last month amid the rough-and-tumble nature of city driving.


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