GM's Cruise will test self-driving cars in New York in 2018

Key Points
  • GM will begin testing autonomous cars in New York in 2018.
  • GM subsidiary Cruise is already testing cars in crowded cities, which are considered complex environments.
  • Some analysts have grown more bullish on GM's potential to compete.
Mary Barra, chief executive officer of General Motors Co. (GM), stands next to a Chevrolet Bolt EV self-driving test car while speaking during a news conference at GM's headquarters in the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016.
Jeff Kowalsky | Bloomberg | Getty Images

General Motors autonomous driving subsidiary Cruise Automation will begin testing self-driving cars in New York City in 2018, according to the New York State Governor's Office.

The plan for New York is to deploy the cars in a special geofenced area in Manhattan, the governor's office said Tuesday. Geofencing is a method of using GPS to create a virtual boundary around an area.

Every car will have an engineer in the driver's seat, and a second person in the passenger seat. Cruise also plans to expand its presence in New York and will establish a team of employees in the city.

New York City's dense population will allow the company to test its software in unusual situations, allowing the company to improve the software at a much faster rate, said GM Cruise Automation CEO Kyle Vogt said in a news release.

GM has been testing autonomous vehicles already in cities such as San Francisco, Phoenix and Detroit.

GM CEO Mary Barra has said its cars are already making significant progress in the "complex environments" of crowded cities such San Francisco. This has given her confidence the company is on a "very good path" on autonomous driving.

GM shares are up about 31 percent so far in 2017. Lately, some analysts have grown more bullish on GM's potential to compete with firms developing electric cars and autonomous driving technology.

Earlier in October, GM acquired Lidar manufacturer Strobe. Lidar is technology that draws a sort of picture of an environment by sending out laser pulses that determine the distances of various objects. Though currently remarkably expensive, it is considered by many engineers to be a crucial feature of any fully autonomous driving system.