Calif. Hearing to Address Driverless Cars

California law requires the presence of a human driver during testing of autonomous vehicles, but the state is preparing to change that policy. Photo courtesy of Waymo (previously known as the Google self-driving car project).
California law requires the presence of a human driver during testing of autonomous vehicles, but the state is preparing to change that policy. Photo courtesy of Waymo (previously known as the Google self-driving car project).
 

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has scheduled a public hearing for April 25 to alow stakeholders to discuss proposed regulations for testing and deploying autonomous vehicles that lack a human driver.

The state’s draft regulations seek to establish a framework for testing autonomous vehicles without a driver; recognize the authority of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop and enforce federal safety and performance standards for such vehicles; and set requirements that a manufacturer must meet to sell or lease such vehicles outside of a testing program. Additionally, the proposed rules address such issues as vehicle advertising, driver licensing and vehicle registration.

The hearing will be held at the California Department of Water Resources Auditorium in Sacramento. Written comments may be submitted to LADRegulations@dmv.ca.gov until April 24.

“These rules expand our existing autonomous vehicle testing program to include testing vehicles where no driver is present,” said California DMV Director Jean Shiomoto. “This is the next step in eventually allowing driverless autonomous vehicles on California roadways.”

Currently, 27 manufacturers hold an autonomous vehicle test permit in California. But they must have a human driver onboard poised to intervene and take control of the vehicle when needed. Some future self-driving cars operating in the state won’t even be equipped with a steering wheel and pedals for such human intervention.

The new rules will also position California to better compete with states that already permit the testing of driverless cars, including Texas and Michigan.

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