Public highways in the state of New York will soon be open to testing self-driving cars over the next year.
Tucked into a state budget bill approved by lawmakers this week is a measure allowing autonomous vehicles on New York's highways, but it is limited to testing or demonstrations.
A decades-old state law requiring drivers to keep at least one hand on the wheel has kept self-driving cars off of the state's roadways, despite Google and major automakers like Toyota and Volkswagen lobbying for a change in recent years. The budget measure changes that for autonomous car testing, while requiring all tests happen under the "direct supervision of the New York State Police." A licensed driver must be in the car when it is on the road.
The state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), meanwhile, has to approve any entity that wants to test the vehicles. The agency will be required to monitor any self-driving tests and determine the technology's impact on safety, traffic and emergency services
The state measure will expire in April 2018, with DMV and State Police required to put together a report on their findings by June 2018.