Driverless cars to join California’s city streets by April
New rules allow autonomous vehicles to be tested without a driver.
The hype has been around for some time but by next month, drivers in the state of California will be sharing the roads with empty cars that drive themselves.
Regulations have just been approved allowing autonomous vehicle manufacturers and technology companies to put driverless cars on the road for testing. And there doesn’t even have to be a single person inside.
California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has now obtained legal approval allowing it to begin distributing new permits from April 2 onwards.
The DMV is responsible for adopting regulations for both the testing of autonomous vehicles in California and the deployment of this developing technology to the public.
Back in September 2014, testing regulations came into force for permits that require a driver behind the wheel of driverless cars at all times.
So far, 50 manufacturers have registered for some kind of testing with a driver within the state, which is renowned for providing space for a market desperate to take this technology further.
Though it’s not just California. Other manufacturers and tech companies have been testing self-driving cars in other areas of the country including Waymo, formerly Google’s autonomous vehicle project, testing in Arizona and General Motors in New York City and San Francisco.
As of April 2, manufacturers wishing to apply for either a driverless testing permit or a public use permit in California will need to meet the DMV’s requirements, and prove that the cars meet safety standards and comply with traffic laws.
Little is known about whether manufacturers and technology companies are likely to apply for the new permits or which areas they plan to place their fully autonomous cars in. In the meantime, the permits to test with a driver will continue to be available.
Safety remains a key question as this technology develops but Americans appear to be slowly warming to the idea of driverless cars on the road.
What do you make of it? Get the lowdown on driverless vehicle technology here. And if you fancy sitting back in your driverless ride but worry about the cover, check out our guide to getting a self-driving car insured.