Mayor Bill de Blasio declared in October that he would seek to block Gov. Andrew Cuomo from permitting trial runs of autonomous cars in lower Manhattan. The mayor lashed out after an unrelated press conference in Manhattan, repeating his allegation that the state did not consult the city before making a deal to allow General Motors to test its self-driving Cruise Automation models in the city. He asserted that the NYPD and the city’s Department of Transportation must have the opportunity to review the pilot and make sure it poses no danger.
If the state does not allow such a local study before the trials begin early next year, de Blasio indicated he would look to contest the plan in court.
“We’re going to work vigorously to stop it,” the mayor said. “We will use all means at our disposal to stop this from happening unless or until there’s a proper process that our public safety officials deem will allow New Yorkers to be safe. It’s as simple as that: We’re not going to allow it if it’s not going to keep our people safe.”
The mayor further hinted he opposed the notion entirely, and suggested that GM vet its robotic vehicles in less crowded areas outside the five boroughs.
The Cuomo administration maintained that it had briefed the mayor’s office on the plan in August. It also noted that each car will have a trained engineer behind the wheel at all times.
“The mayor can do whatever he wants but the city is subject to state jurisdiction – it’s government 101,” said Department of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman Tiffany Portzer. “We understand that the mayor’s taxi industry donors don’t like it, but it is the future and all states are exploring it.”
Autonomous vehicles are seen as a long-term threat to taxi drivers. The taxi industry was a major contributor to de Blasio’s 2013 mayoral campaign.
The Daily News reported that General Motors donated to Cuomo’s campaign months before the governor gave a green light to the autonomous car deal.