A plan that would have allowed permanent AV testing in the state was amended this year. There’s now a two-year sunset period, which means that without further legislation, the pilot program is set to expire in April 2021.
The Optimus pilot is at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The shuttle service connects NYC Ferry passengers to Flushing Avenue outside the yard.
Because the shuttles are based at the navy yard, a private development with private roads, the two-year sunset period does not apply to Optimus.
“Optimus Ride did not consider applying to the state program as our initial market focus is on geofenced markets such as industrial parks, corporate campuses, planned communities,” an Optimus spokesperson said.
Just two demonstrations of autonomous vehicles have taken place as part of the state’s program since the legislation passed, according to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles.
In 2017, Audi announced it had given demo AV rides to lawmakers at the New York Capitol, and Cadillac kicked off a cross-country AV trip in Manhattan.
General Motors’ Cruise autonomous-vehicle unit had planned to test in New York City in 2018. The plan fell through, though the company, city and state didn’t explain why.
“Cruise has mapped a significant portion of NYC and we continue to be engaged with stakeholders across the state,” Cruise spokesman Milin Mehta said.
Still, the company said it will focus its efforts in San Francisco.
In June, the New York State Bar Association created a task force to investigate the need for more regulatory preparations for AVs in the state.
“The idea is for them to study and review the issue and come back with a series of recommendations that could be a useful template for policymakers in New York state and across the country,” said the association’s president, Hank Greenberg.
Just 29 states have enacted AV testing legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Among states at the forefront of testing is Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill in June that he said makes Florida “the most autonomous vehicle-friendly state in the country.”