Self-driving car hits the road for the first time in NY

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – History was in the making in downtown Albany on Tuesday.

For the first time ever, a self-driving vehicle navigated the roads of New York.

For now, only trained engineers have the green light.

A pilot-program recently passed by Governor Andrew Cuomo will allow testing and demonstrating of autonomous vehicles.

“Jack” is a level 3 prototype manufactured by Audi of America.

It’s capable of safely allowing hands-free driving on highways, but requires someone be on alert to take over at a moment’s notice.

“It looks at the environment around the road all the sensors it has about a 360 degree view of traffic in the road around it. It’s going to look for about 30 different conditions to be in place and then it will tell the driver I can drive hands free,” Brad Stertz, Director of Government Affairs at Audi of America, said.

Stertz says they’ll be on the market come 2021, but here in New York, legislators would first have to amend their “one hand on the wheel” law.

Stertz says while it made sense back when it was created in 1971, technology is inevitably evolving.

“A year ago we had it but it had to be parked in the plaza because the law wouldn’t allow it so this is the first chance folks in the legislature will be able to see what this car can do.”

Many legislators hopped in Tuesday morning for an exclusive spin.

“It can actually come up on slower moving traffic and turn on its turn signal and pass the slower cars in front of it.”

The vehicle is programmed to obey the posted speed limit. So if you want to pick up the pace, you’ll have to take over and you can’t blame “Jack” if you get pulled over.

Department of Motor Vehicle’s Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan says these vehicles would enhance mobility for handicap and elderly drivers and believe it or not she thinks hands free driving will reduce the amount of crashes and improve safety on our roads.

“I think as the technology develops and we get more research and were able to do these sorts of demos and show people it does work we’ll hopefully gain that trust and confidence,” Egan said.

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