New York could open its roads to autonomous car tests in 2018

Assuming the state budget passes.

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Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bloomberg via Getty Images

While automakers have successfully negotiated with certain cities to let them test their self-driving prototypes, other areas haven't budged to accommodate. In New York's case, a 45-year-old law requiring motorists to keep one hand on the wheel has been keeping car companies from deploying their autonomous cars. But buried in the state's annual budget lawmakers started approving yesterday is a measure temporarily pausing the antiquated legislation. Should the embattled budget pass completely, for the next year, companies will be able to try out their self-driving cars on New York's roads.

There are a few caveats. In addition to keeping a licensed driver in every autonomous car when it's on the road, all testing must be done under the direct supervision of the New York State Police and NY's Department of Motor Vehicles. After the measure expires in April 2018, both agencies will release a joint report in June 2018 analyzing self-driving tech's effect on safety, traffic and emergency services. We'll have to wait for the post-mortem to see if all this testing validates the fears of the New York driving groups opposing it -- one of which wants it banned in the state for 50 years.

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