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NYC tech advocacy group urges full speed ahead on autonomous cars

Following Sunday's fatality in Arizona, Tech:NYC says the state should let car companies continue to test autonomous vehicles in the state.

A Cruise Automation employee rides in one of the company's autonomous cars.

(Image via YouTube)

New York’s leading tech industry advocacy group is urging the state not to pump the brakes on its autonomous vehicle testing program, following the fatal autonomous car accident on Sunday in Arizona.

With New York’s existing autonomous vehicle testing legislation is set to expire on April 1, 2018Tech:NYC released a statement Wednesday supporting an extension of the legislation.

“The only way we can perfect the technology is to continue testing it—with robust safety protections,” the organization wrote in its statement.

Tech:NYC attempts to speak for the tech industry in New York. It’s backed by many dozens of technology companies and startups in the city, denoted as “members,” including some of the city’s biggest names, like Google, Airbnb and Union Square Ventures, as well as smaller startups, including Brooklyn’s 10XBETA, Common and Dog Parker. The organization has taken a stand recently on New York City’s Amazon HQ2 bid (for it) and the Trump administration’s travel ban from majority-Muslim countries (against it).


As it stands, New York’s self-driving-car testing laws require a driver present in the driver’s seat and for the company to have a $5 million insurance policy, as well as requirements on the submission of test results. As far as we can tell, only one company has taken the state up on its policy, General Motors, which had its autonomous car unit, Cruise Automation, launch a test program in October.

“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,” Cruise Automation’s CEO Kyle Vogt said in a statement at the time.

Since the accident Sunday, which killed a 49-year-old woman who was walking her bicycle across the street, both Uber, which was testing the car in question, and Toyota have halted their testing programs.

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