Mayor Adams Announces Criteria And Opens Applications For Autonomous Vehicle Testing In NYC

March 28, 2024

NYC Mayor Eric Adams and NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez today released robust safety requirements for responsible and safe autonomous vehicle (AV) testing in NYC.

As well as announced the opening of applications for a new permit program. DOT has established a rigorous permitting program to ensure approved applicants are ready to test their technology in the country’s most challenging urban environment safely and proficiently. Consistent with state law, a trained safety driver will still be required to sit behind the wheel and be ready to take control of an AV-enabled vehicle at all times.  

New York City leads the nation in responsible innovation, and we’re continuing to do so with this new autonomous vehicle program,” said Mayor Adams. “Our streets are vibrant and energetic — and that’s a great thing, but it also means that we need to have strong guardrails and requirements in place on any sort of autonomous vehicles. That’s why we’re implementing these rigorous permit requirements and requiring close collaboration with DOT and our emergency responders, so we can ensure that autonomous vehicle technology works for New York City. This technology is coming whether we like it or not, so we’re going to make sure that we get it right. If we do, our streets can be safer, and our air could be cleaner.”  

“We are doing our due diligence to get ahead of the AV revolution …”


 “Autonomous vehicles aren’t just coming, they’re here — they’ve been successfully operating across the country for years. We are doing our due diligence to get ahead of the AV revolution, and ensure that if AVs are coming, they do so within a framework that benefits New Yorkers, and creates training and good, upwardly mobile jobs in the autonomous industry,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi.  “It’s been the story for too long that government can’t keep up with private enterprise. No longer. With careful regulation, we believe that they have the potential to benefit a city as complex as New York.”    

“As autonomous vehicle technology expands across the country, DOT is deploying a robust new permitting process to ensure safe, responsible testing on our city’s streets,” said DOT Commissioner Rodriguez. “Driver error and distraction plays an all-too-common role in traffic crashes, and autonomous vehicle technology offers potential to improve traffic safety. We look forward to working closely with AV companies that are serious about safely operating on America’s most challenging street network.”   

The city’s approach prioritizes safety and accountability in AV testing. As part of the approval process, applicants must submit information on their previous testing experience and technological capabilities, a detailed testing plan for New York City, and a safety plan describing key elements that will contribute to the safe operation of their technology on city streets.  

Companies must also follow industry best practices related to the recruitment and training of the safety drivers that must be present in the vehicle during testing. Additionally, applicants must obtain approval from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles before starting an on-street testing program. This program intends to create a roadmap for a collaborative future of AV testing and potential deployment in New York City, one in which AV companies work closely with the city to support a vision for a safe, sustainable, equitable, and efficient transportation system for all.    

As part of the city’s safety protocols, applicants must provide details on how their test operators are selected and trained, and attest that they will follow recent best practices from the Society of Automotive Engineers. These practices include background checks for test operators, appropriate training on the vehicle systems they will be testing, and working conditions and frequent breaks that will keep them focused on the job and avoid distraction. Applicants must also certify that the vehicles will follow all traffic laws and curb regulations and include safety assurance protocols for how the operator will compensate for any AV system limitation or failure and proactively intervene to avoid potential crashes.  

Applicants will be required to coordinate closely with DOT through regular meetings and data reporting, as well as to engage with the New York City Police Department and the Fire Department of the City of New York on how their autonomous vehicles interact with emergency vehicles. Companies must also certify that they are adhering to industry best practices related to cybersecurity. 

Applicants will additionally be required to provide a detailed overview of the level of automation and safety performance of their AV technology, including previous testing and crash histories of their AV technology. Further, applicants will have to provide a list of all current or past permits to test their technology in any local, state, or foreign government agency.  

DOT will meet regularly with program participants in the lead-up to and during testing to assess testing plans, identify potential challenges, and monitor compliance with the terms of the permit. Participants in the testing program will be required to report testing data, including incidents where test drivers take control over from the AV technology, on a regular basis.  

“… the world’s leading autonomous vehicle ride hailing company …”

“Waymo has had a longstanding relationship with New York City, where we have previously manually driven and tested for winter weather,” said Michelle Peacock, global head of public policy, Waymo. “We commend this important step, as well as the city’s ongoing commitment to drive innovation and deliver transportation improvements for New Yorkers. As the world’s leading autonomous vehicle ride hailing company, Waymo looks forward to continuing our partnership with Mayor Adams and his administration as we continue to safely bring our technologies to more cities and communities across the country.” 

Photo credit: Harlem World Magazine.



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