Self-driving car to test in Albany

Audi self-driving car

A photo of an Audi self-driving car distributed by the Cuomo admin.

Audi will begin testing of autonomous vehicle technology -- a self-driving car -- in Albany near the Capitol June 13, the Cuomo admin announced Wednesday. Press release blurbage:

Included in the FY 2018 Budget, new legislation allows for testing autonomous technology through a year-long pilot program. Audi of America Inc. was the first company to apply for the rights to demonstrate this technology in New York and the first to be approved under the program. The technology they plan to demonstrate in the Capital Region is considered to be a Level 3 in autonomous vehicle operations by the Society of Automobile Engineers, meaning it is capable of safely allowing hands-free driving at posted highway speeds, but requiring a person to take over if required. Two trained engineers will be in the vehicle to monitor the system and ensure safety, one in the front seat and one in the back seat. The vehicle has already logged thousands of miles on highways across the U.S. safely.

That "level 3" is halfway along the SAE's scale from no automation all the way up to fully-automated, self-aware vehicle that swears at you when you cut it off.

The conventional wisdom right now is that self-driving cars are The Future. And pretty much every car company -- along with companies such as the Google affiliate Waymo -- are working on the tech. (Ford recently sacked its CEO, apparently in large because a deal fell through with Google on self-driving tech.) [Automotive News]

The implications of having cars that can drive without humans opens up a range of possibilities, including greater safety and convenience. But it also raises questions about the future of public transit, how cities are designed, commuting, and jobs. [Quartz]

For example, to link this to another hot topic here: Uber has been vigorously pursuing self-driving tech, presumably to eliminate human drivers, and the cost of paying them, from the service in the future (with all the usual Uber drama). [NYT x2]

Earlier: Four trends shaping the way people will get around the Capital Region in the future

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