California DMV looks to take the driver out of self-driving cars

October 13, 2017

California’s Department of Motor Vehicles has revised a set of proposed self-driving car regulations that would now allow cars to drive themselves without human oversight—that is, without a human providing backup.

The new rules are up for public discussion until October 25th, and if passed, could lead to completely driverless cars as early as next summer.

MORE: The five levels of self-driving cars

“We are excited to take the next step in furthering the development of this potentially life-saving technology in California,” California Transportation Secretary Brian Kelly said.

Under the new regulations, companies would be required to notify authorities about the time and place they plan to test, but no permission is required. One of the key details is that the DMV is now looking only to keep track of the location of driverless vehicles and to ensure companies log every instance when the self-driving programs have to shut themselves off for any reason.

The responsibility of ensuring the cars remain safe on public roads falls on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and its Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), which recently announced its own controversial guidelines that laid the onus of self-driving technology safety on manufacturers.

The new rules aren’t aimed at consumers yet, but are intended to allow companies additional flexibility during testing operations, which could include self-driving ride-sharing services.

Currently, 42 companies hold permits in California to test self-driving technologies on public roads.

DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said, “The department looks forward to seeing those companies and additional companies advance the technology under these new regulations.”

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