In October, General Motors made a big splash by announcing it was applying for a permit to test autonomous cars in New York State, with plans to deploy vehicles on the busy streets of Manhattan in “early 2018.” But more than six months later, the automaker has yet to receive final approval for the necessary permit to begin testing, a spokesperson confirmed Thursday.
At the time, GM, through its self-driving unit Cruise Automation, appeared plenty eager to stake out turf in Manhattan. The automaker failed to run the announcement by the office of New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, much to the chagrin of his staff. But with plans to deploy a car with no steering wheel or pedals in the works, as part of an undefined ride-sharing program, the idea of mastering the dense streets of Manhattan drummed up intense excitement and speculation. The test area is reportedly supposed to encompass a five-square mile section of lower Manhattan.
“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,” said Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation, in a statement accompanying the October announcement.
“We look forward to working with Governor Cuomo as we work toward bringing next-generation transportation solutions to New York.”
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Cruise, however, told Jalopnik on Thursday that it still doesn’t have a permit finalized to begin testing.
“Cruise have mapped a significant portion of NYC,” a company spokesperson said. “New York is a complex regulatory environment and we continue to work with stakeholders on next steps.”
Seth Stein, spokesperson for de Blasio’s office, deferred to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, saying the mayor’s team has no oversight in the permitting process.
“NYS DMV is the entity evaluating GM/Cruise’s application to test AV’s in New York City,” Stein told Jalopnik. “New York City does not have a role.”
The automaker has made some headway into the city. In February, online news site Tribeca Citizen found Cruise had leased 9,500 sq. ft. of space in a lower Manhattan building. But little has emerged since.
At the beginning of the year, GM introduced a variation of the all-electric Bolt, with no steering wheel or pedals. The company has quickly accelerated the timeline for its autonomous car ambitions, and said it plans to start testing a fleet of fully-driverless Bolts in 2019.
The state’s DMV didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.