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NYC opens self-driving pilot program, not everyone is excited – NBC New York

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New York City’s mayor is giving the green light to a pilot program that could allow self-driving vehicles in the city.

Similar programs are already being tested in cities like San Francisco, but safety concerns remain top of mind as traffic deaths are already on the rise in some parts of the five boroughs.

The mere idea of a car without a driver on the streets of Manhattan is enough to get New Yorkers talking.

“I don’t think that’s possible,” Heather Mirynech said. “I think with the level of traffic here, it wouldn’t be feasible to not have people behind the wheel.”

City officials said during an upcoming test phase the robotic cars would not exactly be driverless.

“[Those vehicles] will always have a safety driver behind the wheel,”‘ Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez emphasized last week.

Rodriguez said the new application for companies to test their autonomous vehicles in New York comes with a demo permit and then a testing permit. Participating companies must also report all of their date, including incidents and where test drivers have to take command.

“They will have to go through a rigorous approval process,” the commissioner added.

The applications were announced the same day Mayor Eric Adams, an avowed fan of high tech, unveiled a gun detection demo in the subways.

“This is a Sputnik moment,” Adams hailed.

Alexa Sledge of Transportation Alternatives said the city’s efforts would serve more people if they directed their tech priorities elsewhere.

“New Yorkers do not need to be lab rats for a new technology,” Sledge said. “We don’t have to bring driverless cars to New York city. Why not expand the air train?”

Also opposed to automated vehicles: taxi and Uber drivers.

“In New York City, we have so many pedestrians and bikes. To add these vehicles is gonna cause a nightmare,” Brendan Sexton of the Independent Drivers Guild said.

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