In New York State, legislation that prevents the use of self-driving cars might be revised soon.
New York is the only US state where the law specifically requires drivers to keep one hand on the steering wheel at all times while their vehicle is in motion. However, this law, which, as a consequence, forbids the introduction of self-driving cars on to the state’s roads, could soon be amended. New York State Senator Joseph Robach, who chairs the Transportation Committee, has proposed amending the Vehicle and Traffic Law to specify that drivers must keep a hand on the wheel while the vehicle is in motion, “unless driving technology is engaged to perform the steering function”.
The bill has already been passed by the New York Senate and is now under consideration by the State Assembly. If the State Assembly passes it, this will open the way to the testing of autonomous vehicles on the state’s roads.
This in itself would be good news. In 2014, a study from Columbia University reported that replacing New York City taxi cabs by self-driving cars would reduce the per-mile cost to passengers from $4 to just $0.50.
Interviewed during the Code Conference which took place in California last week, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk predicted that fully autonomous cars would be operational within the next two years but that it would take at least another year for legislation authorising their use in the United States to be passed.