California moves toward public access for self-driving cars

California moves toward public access for self-driving cars

"A special permit is still required to deploy, creating regulatory uncertainty and raising concerns about the ability of autonomous vehicles to cross state lines", it said. "The DMV's current self-driving vehicle test regulations set a standard for the nation; it's imperative that California continue to protect us when the feds won't do their job".

Regulations involving testing have been on California's books since 2014, when Google (now spun out as Waymo) and others started reaching the point where the next-gen tech could feasibly be tested on roads. After a 15-day public comment period, those rules will be submitted to the state government, which will then begin enforcing them sometime in the middle of 2018.

Driverless cars are already operating in Arizona, Florida and several other states that have looser regulations than California or no specific driverless regulations at all.

The state clarifies how manufacturers must notify local authorities before testing and cedes development and enforcement of safety standards to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Many safety experts believe that robot cars will prove far safer than human drivers.

"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", said the group's spokesman John Simpson.

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DMV officials said Wednesday that the federal government will continue to set safety standards for automobiles, while the state's role is to make sure vehicles traveling on state highways conform to federal standards.

It's worth noting that self-driving trucks (or any autonomous vehicle weighing over 10,000 lbs) will still require a human behind the wheel.

MI and Nevada also allow autonomous vehicles on the road for testing, but each state requires test drivers to be inside vehicles. Right now, these companies are testing cars that can at best be considered Level 3 autonomous, meaning they still require some human intervention.

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.

Congress is now considering legislation that would loosen federal requirements on driverless-car testing. 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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