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article imageCalifornia to allow testing self-driving cars with no driver

By Ken Hanly     Feb 27, 2018 in Technology
Sacramento - The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in California USA announced last Monday that it has established new rules that will allow those working on autonomous vehicles to begin trials with no safety driver at the wheel.
The new regulations go into effect on April 2. A public notice will go up on March 2nd on the DMV website. Companies can apply for three types of permits: testing with a safety driver, driverless testing, and deployment.
Earlier rules required a trained safety driver be in the vehicle
While the California Department of Motor Vehicles already allowed testing of autonomous vehicles on roads, the vehicles always had to have a safety driver behind the wheel ready at all times to take over manual control if something went wrong. The new rules represent an important step to finally allowing self-driving vehicles to be used commercially.
The new rules still have provisions that will allow control of the vehicle if there is any kind of trouble. There must be a dedicated communications channel connecting the car to a remote operator who can take control if there is a problem. The car's communication system must be protected against cyber attacks.
Any company wishing to test a vehicle will need to get a permit from the DMV. The new rules only apply to consumer passenger vehicles not vehicles such as the new Tesla semi trucks.
GM and Alphabet should welcome new regulations
GM's Cruise and Alphabet's Waymo will likely welcome the news. Waymo is already testing an autonomous version of the Chrysler Pacifica in Arizona. Cruise has recently shown off its autonomous vehicle a modified version of Bolt but with no steering wheel and no pedals for brakes and no accelerator. GM Is hoping to have the cars available by 2019. Tests are being carried out in San Francisco.
Director, Jean Shiomoto of the California DMV said: “This is a major step forward for autonomous technology in California. Safety is our top concern and we are ready to begin working with manufacturers that are prepared to test fully driverless vehicles in California."
The Federal Self Drive Act
The US House or Representatives has already passed the Self Drive Act which cleared the house unanimously and now goes to the Senate. Although the bill could if passed accelerate the roll-out of the autonomous vehicles there are concerns that it could also conflict with some state legislation. It would be the first national legislation governing the vehicles. The bill would not allow states to pass legislation that the auto industry considers restrictive.
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