California Might Have Just Killed Driverless Cars


A whole new set of laws have been enacted.

Automakers have been hard at work on testing autonomous vehicles, but California has brought all of the research to a screeching halt by enacting a variety of laws that are aimed at regulating the testing of autonomous vehicles in the state. According to a report by Automotive News, the new rules have put strict limitations on automakers planning on testing self-driving on California’s public roads. This may be the knife that stops automakers from testing vehicles in the state and others will most likely follow shortly after.

Four aspects to the new law include: 1. Automakers must submit self-driving cars to third-party testing to ensure that the vehicles are ready for deployment. Third-party testing will be used to see an "autonomous vehicle’s ability to perform key driving maneuvers that are typically encountered in real-world driving conditions.” 2. A licensed driver with a self-driving vehicle operator certificate, which is issued by the state’s DMV, must be present in the car at all times. The driver of the vehicle must be able to take control of the autonomous vehicle if something were to go wrong. If any traffic violations were to occur while the autonomous vehicle is in operation, the sole responsibility would be on the operator.

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3. Manufacturers that are approved for autonomous deployment will need to apply for a permit and submit monthly reports on safety, usage of self-driving vehicles and performance in order to test them on California’s roads. As a condition of the permit, “vehicles can only be operated by the manufacturer or made available to the public on no more than a leased basis.” So privately-owned autonomous vehicles will not be available. 4. Manufacturers have to disclose to autonomous vehicle operations that the vehicle will collect information and must get written approval by the operators. In addition to these key points, the law also prohibits testing of self-driving commercial vehicles in California.

“Due to the size of these vehicles, DMV believes that public safety is best served by initially limiting deployment to passenger vehicles,” states the law. This new law will obviously make automakers and companies heavily involved in autonomous vehicles extremely upset, which is understandable. It’s safe to assume that manufacturers will have to find a different state to test its autonomous vehicles in.

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