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California will allow self-driving cars without humans inside from 2018
12 October 2017, 01:09 | Kelvin Horton
California DMV changes rules to allow testing and use of fully autonomous vehicles
California law requires the DMV to work on regulations to cover testing and public use of autonomous vehicles, and the regulator said that this is the first step. Almost 1,000 safety drivers are licensed to test those vehicles, but after the state's rules go into effect, companies would be allowed to deploy cars without any human behind the wheel.
Under that framework, which could be tweaked in coming weeks, companies could begin testing prototypes with no steering wheel or pedals - and nobody at all inside.
In Arizona, Uber and Waymo have been giving rides to passengers in driverless cars without permission.
The proposed rules now enter a 15-day comment period, ending October 25, after which the DMV will consider folks' opinions, and take another look at the wording before setting it in stone. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration would have to write permanent rules for self-driving vehicles as part of the bill.
"The new California DMV proposal wrongly relies on the federal government, when there are absolutely no federal motor vehicle safety standards applying specifically to autonomous vehicle technology", John Simpson, spokesman for the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog, said in a statement.
In addition, companies must prove the vehicles can only operate autonomously in places it was created to, and they must furnish the DMV with all sorts of information about how the vehicles react to various issues that may or may not be programmed into the car's computers.
The new rules represent a compromise with automotive and technology companies, which had objected to numerous requirements previously proposed by the state.
With the new revised regulations, California drives a bit farther down the road for autonomous vehicle testing, but it's not alone.
The language was replaced with a requirement for "supervising the autonomous technology's performance of the dynamic driving task".
Currently, 285 self-driving cars are being tested on California roadways by 42 permit holders, majority auto manufacturers or technology companies, according to the DMV. Right now, these companies are testing cars that can at best be considered Level 3 autonomous, meaning they still require some human intervention.
The Senate version of the proposed law would not allow large driverless trucks. The DMV is also issuing a new template for manufacturers to report the number of times the vehicle forced the human driver to take control because it couldn't safely navigate the conditions on the road.
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