California to Allow Level 5 Autonomous Cars Testing

Waymo Jaguar I-Pace 1 photo
Photo: Jaguar
With recent incidents still fresh in the public mind, autonomous or self-driving cars are not exactly man’s best friends these days. But looked at from an industry point of view, both the Uber and Tesla crashes are just a pebble in the pond.
Testing of autonomous vehicles will continue. Take Waymo, for instance, which plans to take over the world with its self-driving army of 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace and possibly a division of Honda-sourced machines. And since companies will not stop, neither will authorities.

In order to operate autonomous vehicles on public roads, companies usually need a permit. Until recently, those permits were issued for lower-level automation, meaning cars that would still need the input of a human driver from time to time.

That is about to change in California, which may very well become the world’s first state where Level 5 automated cars could be publicly tested.

According to the Washington Post, the state introduced on April 2 legislation which would permit companies to unleash on public roads cars with no steering wheel, no pedals and no other means of control by humans.

In light of the Uber fatal crash in Arizona, the state says that for cars to get approval to drive on public roads the companies operating them would have to prove the systems have been tested under controlled conditions that simulate the environment they are designed for.

“The Department will not approve any permits until it is clear that the applicant has met all of the safe operation requirements set forth in law and in the regulations,” California’s Department of Motor Vehicles said according to the source.

Additionally, companies would have to notify the communities where they plan to operate that autonomous cars would be in the area. Any crash, no matter how serious, would have to be reported. The same applies for any malfunctions of the autonomous system.

The legislation which came into effect this month has been prepared for several years now. It’s likely more states would follow, despite the criticism caused by past incidents.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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