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New York City represents a particularly challenging environment compared to the sunny snow-free locations that attract most autonomous testing programs.

General Motors has applied to be among the first companies operating sustained testing of fully autonomous vehicles in New York State early next year.

The automaker is planning to bring its autonomous vehicles to Manhattan, a particularly challenging environment compared to the sunny snow-free locations that serve as testing headquarters for most companies working on self-driving cars.

Governor Andrew M Cuomo's office suggests GM and subsidiary Cruise Automation are already mapping a geofenced area in the city, preparing to support Level 4 automation.

"Cruise's planned testing would be the first time Level 4 autonomous vehicles will be tested in New York State, presenting opportunities for future autonomous vehicle development in the state and cementing New York's role as the hub of autonomous vehicle innovation in the nation," the office says.

The New York DMV and State Police are said to be working with Cruise and GM to ensure the test program meets all safety requirements.