If you've ever spotted an autonomous vehicle, you probably noticed that there was actually someone behind the wheel.
But today the California Office of Administrative Law finally signed off on rules that will allow autonomous cars to be tested autonomously—or at least, with no one in the driver's seat.
It is reported that the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles had spent a year working on the new rules. The first permits to test truly driverless cars will be available by April 2.
There are dozens of companies already testing driverless car technology in California . Now, “companies must self-certify that their cars can handle themselves without a human in the driver’s seat,” the report writes, “and they must comply with all federal safety regulations.”
As well, there must be human operators monitoring the cars remotely who have the ability to pull them to the side of the road. And remote operators must also be able to communicate with law enforcement as well as the passengers in the event of an accident.
Vehicles can operate without steering wheels, accelerators
, and other manual controls, provided they get waivers
from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
For now, the only people who can ride in such cars are employees of the companies operating them, or non-paying passengers.
And not everyone is happy with the state's decision. Some feel there are still many issues, such as safety, privacy, security, and policing, to figure out.