By April 2nd California will allow testing of self-driving vehicles on the road and transporting the public without a human backup driver.
Jean Shiomoto, California Department of Motor Vehicles Director said “This is a major step forward for autonomous technology in California,”
“Safety is our top concern and we are ready to begin working with manufacturers that are prepared to test fully driverless vehicles in California.” Mercury News Reports
California’s move was immediately attacked by John M. Simpson a director for Consumer Watchdog, which said the “disengagement reports” companies file with the DMV when human backup drivers have to take over show the technology isn’t ready for remote control. Operation of the vehicles from afar would transform the testing of autonomous cars into “a deadly video game that threatens highway safety,”
According to Recode Self-driving vehicles have been allowed on California roads since 2014 as long as a human driver was able to take the wheel. But the emerging technology is still technically in the testing phase and while Monday’s announcement does away with the human requirement inside the vehicle, California will still require that a remote human operator monitoring the vehicle,
In addition to setting up a system so the vehicles can communicate with a remote human operator, companies must also have vehicles able to detect and defend against cyber-attacks UPI reports
Companies wishing to utilize the new rules in their self-driving vehicles must apply for a permit. Today, about 50 car makers and technology companies — including Google spin-off Waymo, GM, Tesla, Ford, BMW, Toyota, Honda, Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen — have permits for testing autonomous vehicles with safety drivers on California public roads.
California isn’t the first state in the country to allow self-driving vehicles on the road without a human inside.
Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has been testing its self-driving vehicles without humans present since October According to UPI