California to Impose More Stringent Rules for Driverless Cars

Google Self-Driving Car 1 photo
Photo: Justin Sullivan
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is proposing a new set of rules for autonomous cars, since a lot more of them are making their appearance on public roads, in order to be tested in real driving conditions.
BMW, Volkswagen, Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Tesla, suppliers Bosch and Delphi, Google and Cruise Automation, all have been granted permission to test their fully-autonomous cars on the public roads of California.

As the DMV stated, all autonomous cars will need steering wheels and pedals when traveling on public roads, as well as a licensed driver with a special certificate called “autonomous vehicle operator certificate” behind the wheel, who should be able to take control if needed.

Also, the automakers would be required to present monthly reports regarding the performance and safety of their driverless cars. If this set of rules is adopted, the cars that don't obey them will be banned from California’s public roads.

DMV director Jean Shimoto explains the decision by saying that the agency’s main concern is the safety of both the fully-autonomous cars and the public that shares the road with them.

The set of rules could affect automakers and make them search for other places to test their driverless cars. Currently, Google is also testing its cars in Austin, Texas, where the rules are more tolerant than in California. This thing might change, though, if all the developers start focusing on Texas.

Google was the first to react to this proposal by saying this would hold back the technology that could prevent car crashes and would border the mobility of people who cannot drive.

According to Automotive News, this new set of guidelines is based on a law passed by California legislators in 2012, when the DMV was asked to issue rules for driverless cars.

Before the adoption, the DMV has scheduled public meetings where these rules would be debated, set to take place on January 28 and February 2, 2016.
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