California DMV Releases Proposed Rules For Driverless Vehicles

Image courtesy of Waymo

After a high-profile spat with Uber of self-driving cars that were operating in San Francisco without proper permission, the state of California has proposed new rules that would make it easier for companies to test truly autonomous cars — no one behind the wheel at all — on the state’s roads.

The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles released its proposed rules for autonomous vehicles today, noting that state says California currently has more manufacturers testing autonomous vehicle than any other state.

These new rules expand on existing DMV guidelines for testing autonomous vehicles by setting up conditions for tests of cars where no driver is present. California does not currently allow that. Even the tests of autonomous Uber vehicles had someone in the driver’s seat at all time.

“This is the next step in eventually allowing driverless autonomous vehicles on California roadways,” said DMV Director Jean Shiomoto.

The proposal doesn’t just suggest letting these truly autonomous vehicles loose on the streets of Sacramento or Barstow. Instead, it establishes the framework for how a manufacturer can convince the state that one of these self-operating cars is ready for testing. For example, driverless cars would need to be remotely monitored and have the ability to pull over in an emergency.

A public commenting period is now open until April 24, with a public hearings scheduled on April 25.