ALBANY - Public highways in New York will soon be open to testing self-driving cars, but only for the next year.
Tucked into a state budget bill approved by lawmakers this week is a measure allowing autonomous vehicles on New York's highways, but it's limited to testing or demonstrations.
A decades-old state law requiring drivers to keep at least one hand on the wheel has kept self-driving cars off of the state's roadways, despite Google and major automakers like Toyota and Volkswagen lobbying for a change in recent years.
The budget measure changes that for autonomous car testing, while requiring all tests happen under the "direct supervision of the New York State Police."
A licensed driver must be in the car when it's on the road.
The state Department of Motor Vehicles, meanwhile, has to approve any entity that wants to test the vehicles.
The agency will be required to monitor any self-driving tests and determine the technology's impact on safety, traffic and emergency services.
The state measure will expire in April 2018, with DMV and State Police required to put together a report on their findings by June 2018.
The new law comes as Uber, a Google spin-off and other tech companies continue to advance the technology.
Uber, a ride-hailing company, is currently experimenting with self-driving cars in Pittsburgh and other cities in different states.
The company temporarily suspended its autonomous vehicle experiment late last Month following a wreck in Arizona, but resumed within a matter of days.
The state Senate passed the budget bill that includes the car testing measure late Tuesday, while the Assembly approved it Wednesday.
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