Self-driving car manufacturers strenuously protested New York City’s proposed rules for automated vehicles in a recent city hearing, according to a report by StreetsBlog. The biggest point of contention: a proposed mandate that automated vehicles drive “more safely than a human driver.” According to the report, representatives for the vehicles’ manufacturers said the rule would make New York City inhospitable for them. As one advocate said, “New York City has always been a place of creativity and innovation, but these rules would make New York one of the least hospitable cities in the U.S. for AV development.”
Another advocate argued that driverless cars will be “key” to meeting the city’s Vision Zero program, which seeks to eliminate all car crash fatalities. “Crashes are caused by careless driving, driver inattention, failure to yield and speeding,” he said, claiming that data suggests automated vehicles will be far safer than human-operated vehicles.
Of the companies that hope to introduce automated vehicles to New York City’s streets, just one, Mobileye, is currently testing them in the city. A Brooklyn resident testifying at the hearing questioned assertions by Mobileye’s CEO that his company’s cars would imitate the way human drivers stopped at a crosswalk might slowly nudge forward to signal to an unmoving pedestrian that they should move. According to StreetsBlog, the resident responded: “These cars will menace, threaten and kill pedestrians if they don’t get out of the way fast enough… I don’t want to have to deal with a dead kid because some guy wrote a computer code that determined the kid was moving too slowly across the street.”
A representative for a pedestrian safety advocacy group testified that she hopes city rules protect vulnerable road drivers while autonomous vehicle companies test their cars, arguing that the city should limit tests within arterials and wide streets, and out of small streets and school zones. “It is New York City’s moral obligation as a leader to design a demonstration that minimizes risks to our most vulnerable populations,” she said.”
More information on the automated vehicle industry’s response to proposed safety rules in New York City is available via StreetsBlog.