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California Moves Toward Public Access For Self-Driving Cars

California Moves Toward Public Access For Self-Driving Cars

The proposed regulations are a revised version of those published on March 10, after the agency received feedback from manufacturers, consumer advocates, local government and insurance companies.

"What we're setting up is, as [car companies] develop the technology, if they are prepared to start testing them without a driver present in the vehicle, they would be able to apply and get a permit from the department to do so", Soublet told reporters. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers praised the move, saying that California had recognized that certain onerous requirements could delay deployment of self-driving technology and that the organization appreciated California's attempts to streamline requirements consistent with the recently updated federal guidance.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles announced new regulations that could see self-driving cars take the road as soon as next June, but critics of the regulations worry that the safety requirements still aren't quite all there.

"Automakers can glance at the NHTSA policy and say, 'That's nice, ' and then do whatever they want as they use our roads as private laboratories and threaten highway safety", Simpson said.

California's change in tack comes as other states build momentum with looser regulations.

"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 Associated Press reports that this is the same approach to normal cars meant to have humans behind and in control of the steering wheel.

California's current rules require a licensed driver to be in the driver's seat while autonomous vehicles are being tested, a rule that some say is too stringent. Major automakers like Mercedes, BMW, Ford, Nissan and Volvo have all said it will be closer to 2020 before those vehicles are available, and even then, they could be confined to ride-hailing fleets and other shared applications.

The new regulations are a marked change from the DMV's previous stance on autonomous vehicle testing.

A 15-day public comment period will follow Wednesday's release of the new draft rules. Similarly the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee also voted in support of a bill to allow more self-driving vehicles on roadways.

But the federal government has offered only guidelines, not rules, on self-driving cars, failing to ensure public safety, advocacy group Consumer Watchdog said Wednesday.

The state also requires manufacturers to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, and share any safety assessments submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The new California regulations wouldn't either.