California plans to allow autonomous cars without backup drivers

California is pushing to allow self-driving cars to operate without a driver

Autonomous cars without backup drivers could come to California roads before June

Advocacy group Consumer Watchdog has called for the California DMV to disallow self-driving vehicles to operate without a driver behind the wheel until NHTSA passes enforceable standards for the cars.

Although self-driving cars have been testing in California since 2014, many believe state regulators relaxed self-driving vehicle regulations because other states like Florida, Michigan, and Arizona have much fewer rules and limitations on autonomous auto testing.

The new rules come with a growing number of tech firms and automakers testing self-driving vehicles, and follows new guidelines from the federal government aimed at spurring the technology widely believed to improve road safety and reduce accidents.

California is taking another step toward clearing the way for fully self-driving cars. The regulations are expected to be set by the end of the year and approved by the DMV early next year.

The administration has responsibility to regulate safety in the design and performance of vehicles, while states regulate drivers and vehicle operations.

"DMV's initial self-driving testing rules set a high standard for the nation, demonstrating that thoughtful regulation and safety protection go hand-in-hand with innovation", said Simpson.

The new regulations would require that manufacturers testing driverless cars on California roads certify that they're meeting federal standards and that any public paperwork shared with federal regulators on driverless testing is also passed to the DMV.

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The DMV is trying to balance safety and technology development.

"It will also allow, for the first time at least here in California, to get a permit to allow the public deployment of the vehicles", Soublet said.

In addition, companies must prove the vehicles can only operate autonomously in places it was created to, and they must furnish the DMV with all sorts of information about how the vehicles react to various issues that may or may not be programmed into the car's computers.

The new rules represent a compromise with automotive and technology companies, which had objected to numerous requirements previously proposed by the state. Under the new rules, testers would simply be required to inform cities, towns and counties when and where the vehicles will be tested.

Currently, 285 self-driving cars are being tested on California roadways by 42 permit holders, a lot of them auto manufacturers or technology companies, according to the DMV.

Congress is now considering legislation that would loosen federal requirements on driverless-car testing. The new regulations should be in force sometime next year, although it may take a while after for companies to build out fully autonomous cars that comply with the new regulations.

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