California Will Let Companies Test Self-Driving Cars-Without Human Drivers

Autonomous cars without backup drivers could come to California roads before June

"It could be sooner than that, but it's all contingent on when the regulations are approved", said Soublet.

Currently, most companies are testing cars which could be considered Level 3 autonomous, which means they still require some human intervention, but the technology is advancing at a tremendous pace and it's expected large gains will be made in the next 12 months. California's new regulations state that it will follow the federal government's lead in that companies are required to certify themselves as road ready or not.

After some pressure from automakers and tech companies, California regulators announced new rules for the testing of self-driving cars on public roads. The testing bed of these companies has always been California.

California's change in tack comes as other states build momentum with looser regulations. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill allowing the testing of autonomous vehicles on Michigan roadways in late 2016.

The Associated Press reports that this is the same approach to normal cars meant to have humans behind and in control of the steering wheel. Manufacturers would still need to receive approval or a waiver for exemption from the federal government before operating a vehicle on public roads without a human driver or conventional controls like a steering wheel or pedals.

Manufacturers are also required to specify in their local notification the specific roads, dates and times when and where testing will occur.

The state also requires manufacturers to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, and share any safety assessments submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Congress is considering legislation that would loosen federal requirements on driverless-car testing.

At present, the DMV has released the revised version of their new regulations, opening an online 15-day public comment period set to end on October 25, letting people voice their concerns prior to any official changes to policy.

The U.S. Department of Transportation and NHTSA outlined some of its newly-revised regulations on automated driving systems guidance in a Sept. 12 statement. Foremost, a company must notify local governments when self-driving car tests will take place in their city or town.

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. Major automakers such as Mercedes, BMW, Ford, Nissan and Volvo all have said it will be closer to 2020 before those vehicles are available, and even then, they could be confined to ride-hailing fleets and other shared applications. Do they go too far?

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