AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES: California considers regulating fully autonomous vehicles

Jan. 29, 2016

The auto industry is pushing for the state of California to allow fully autonomous vehicles on the road

The auto industry is pushing for the regulation of fully autonomous vehicles as opposed to the proposal that only allows vehicles to operate themselves if a licensed driver is behind the wheel and ready to take over.

At a public workshop in Sacramento, Calif., the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) proposed draft regulations that would require a licensed driver to sit behind the wheel of autonomous vehicles—effectively prohibiting fully autonomous cars until manufacturers can prove their safety through mass deployment amongst the public.

The discussion of fully autonomous vehicles follows U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announcing that within six months, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) plans to put out model policy guidelines for states to regulate autonomous vehicles. An NHTSA statement released in conjunction with Foxx’s announcement made it clear that such rules would leave open a door for fully autonomous vehicles.

At the workshop, the DMV pushed for drivers of autonomous vehicles to obtain a certificate on top of the standard driver’s license. Another item discussed was the DMV’s proposal to require auto manufacturers to test their autonomous vehicles with a third party present in order to receive a permit to sell those vehicles in California. Currently, the DMV allows manufacturers to self-test and certify the safety of their vehicles. 

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