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NY set to OK self-driving car ‘tests’

A Google self-driving test vehicle on May 13,

A Google self-driving test vehicle on May 13, 2015, on the company campus in Mountain View, Calif. Photo Credit: AP / Tony Avelar

ALBANY

New York would approve self-driving cars — but only for “demonstrations” or “tests” and just for one year — under a provision tucked into a state budget bill.

The provision, part of a bill the state Senate approved Tuesday, would allow the use of “autonomous vehicle technology” on public highways, but limit it to test projects supervised by the Department of Motor Vehicles and State Police. Such projects would be “for the purposes of demonstrating and assessing the current development of autonomous vehicle technology and to begin identifying potential impacts of such technology on safety, traffic control, traffic enforcement, emergency services,” and other areas, according to the bill.

In sum, the provision is meant to address a state law requiring drivers keep at least one hand on the wheel at all times. It would authorize self-driving experiments until April 1, 2018.

Each self-driving car would have to be insured to at least $5 million.

A lobby group for taxi drivers has been opposing any authorization of self-driving cars in New York. The Upstate Transportation Authority had asked New York lawmakers to ban such cars — promoted by Google, Uber and others — for 50 years.

In March, Uber suspended experiments with self-driving cars after a crash in Arizona.

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