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Self-driving Cars Allowed on California Roads

by Anna Mischke | Mar 02, 2018
Driver News 030518

Starting April 2nd, self-driving cars with no human backup physically behind the wheel will begin trialing and transporting the public legally in California. Jean Shiomoto, Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) director, shared “This is a major step forward for autonomous technology in California.” Autonomous vehicles have been approved to drive on the state’s public roads since September 2014 as long as a trained safety driver is seated behind the wheel and prepared to take manual control.

While test vehicles may be on the road without a human located in the car, a human operator will still be required to oversee remotely and “must be able to communicate with law enforcement as well as passengers in the event of an accident”. For public transport, the car is required to have a data recorder, defenses against cyber-attack, and “false vehicle control commands” along with “the ability to display or transfer vehicle owner and operator information in the event of a collision.”

Shiomoto assured that “Safety is our top concern and we are ready to begin working with manufacturers that are prepared to test fully driverless vehicles in California.” The DMV has issued permits to 50 auto-makers and tech companies, including Tesla, Honda, Ford, BMW, Apple Inc., Subaru, and Lyft, Inc. Companies interested in testing autonomous vehicles on public roads will be required to secure a permit from the DMV and currently only apply to consumer passenger vehicles. According to Reuters, the remote-control technology is currently being employed by NASA and the US military and “seen as a way to more quickly usher in the commercial rollout of self-driving cars.”  

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