Mobileye, the company that specializes in chips for vision-based autonomous vehicles, is now testing its AVs in New York City — a difficult and rare move given the state’s restrictions around such testing. The Verge reports: The announcement was made by Amnon Shashua, president and CEO of the Intel-owned company, at an event in the city on Tuesday. Shashua said the company is currently testing two autonomous vehicles in New York City, but plans to increase that number to seven “in the next few months.” New York City has some of the most dangerous, congested, and poorly managed streets in the world. They are also chock-full of construction workers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and double- and sometimes even triple-parked cars. In theory, this would make it very difficult for an autonomous vehicle to navigate, given that AVs typically rely on good weather, clear signage, and less aggressive driving from other road users for safe operation. But Shashua said this was part of the challenge in deciding where to test Mobileye’s vehicles.
“I think for a human it’s very, very challenging to drive in New York City,” Shashua said, “not to mention for a robotic car.” While other states have become hot beds for AV testing, New York has been a bit of a ghost town. Part of the reason could be the state’s strict rules, which include mandating that safety drivers keep their hands on the wheel at all times and requiring state police escort at all times to be paid for by the testing company. A spokesperson for Mobileye says the company has obtained a permit from the state to test its vehicles on public roads and is currently the only AV testing permit holder in the state. The spokesperson also said that police escorts were no longer required.