Driverless cars need a driver, says California DMV
The regulations are intended to address the transition from the current small-scale testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads to actual consumer use of the technology. As presently laid out, the new rules would require that all autonomous vehicles include a steering wheel, as well as a fully licensed driver who would be able to take control of the vehicle if needed.
"The primary focus of the deployment regulations is the safety of autonomous vehicles and the safety of the public who will share the road with these vehicles,” said DMV Director Jean Shiomoto in a statement. “We want to get public input on these draft regulations before we initiate the formal regulatory rule making process."
The proposed regulations have already come under criticism from Google, which has logged more than 1.3 million miles with its self-driving cars. In a blog post published last week on Medium, Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car program, described the DMV proposal as "perplexing."
"This maintains the same old status quo and falls short on allowing this technology to reach its full potential, while excluding those who need to get around but cannot drive," he said. "While we’re disappointed by this, we will continue to work with the DMV as they seek feedback in the coming months, in the hope that we can recapture the original spirit of the [California autonomous vehicles bill (SB 1298) passed in 2012]."
Other parts of the proposal include required third-party testing of autonomous vehicles, a three-year deployment permit for manufacturers, and privacy/cybersecurity requirements. The proposal will undergo a review — including input from the public — before final regulations are expected to be published sometime next year.
For more, see the press release from the California DMV: "DMV Releases Draft Requirements for Public Deployment of Autonomous Vehicles."
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