42 companies are testing 285 driverless vehicles with a license from the agency. Policy changes aimed at making testing safer for pedestrians and other drivers include local warnings for planned testing dates, notifications to the DMV for changes in testing, and creation of a report template for designating when a driver has taken over for the autonomous navigation system and vice versa.
Not only will the state allow companies to test their self-driving vehicles without a human being, but it will give the green light to cars without steering wheels, pedals, and mirrors-all things human drivers need but a self-driving car does not. The go date could be sooner than June, depending on how fast the rules are approved, the DMV said. The California Department of Motor Vehicles also won't require autonomous test cars to have backup manual controls. But before the deployment of the driverless car, the manufacturers are asked to certify that their vehicles meet the standards of federal safety and are equipped to comply with the laws of the state traffic, as per the DMV.
California's change in tack comes as other states build momentum with looser regulations.
The state currently allows testing of autonomous vehicles on public roadways.
California's DMV took pains in its announcement to highlight that it wasn't trying to overstep the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has the final say on developing and enforcing compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
The revised regulations also clarify to which local authorities manufacturers must notify when they are planning to test autonomous vehicles without a human operator, which cites "local authorities" as defined by California Vehicle Code 385.
Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google parent company Alphabet Inc, Ford Motor Co, Tesla Inc, Apple Inc, General Motors Co had sought changes in California. The new rules do not, however, relax prohibitions against testing autonomous vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds. "Today's action continues the department's efforts to complete these regulations by the end of the year".
The revised rules are subject to a 15-day public comment period, and then will be submitted to the state government, which will draft plans to enforce them, according to The Verge.
Consumer Watchdog criticized the revisions, saying California should stick to its earlier, stricter state requirements.Consumer Watchdog criticized the revisions, saying California should stick to its earlier, stricter state requirements.
California would also require automakers and tech firms to record information about autonomous sensors in the 30 seconds before a collision.
Automakers would be able to win exemptions from safety rules that require human controls if they met certain requirements.