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California to allow testing of self-driving cars without a driver

Uber self-driving cab

USA: California’s Department of Motor Vehicles ( DMV) enacted new rules recently that will permit tech companies and others working on autonomous vehicle systems tob start trial runs of their vehicles without a safety driver behind the steering wheel. The new rules would be implemented from April 2.

Till now, the DMV provides the companies’ approval for autonomous vehicle testing to run their cars on the roads but there should be a trained safety driver behind the wheel ready and able to take over manual control. Now, the regulators are updating their rules to allow for a fully driverless test, which is a crucial step along the route towards actually deploying self-driving vehicles in a commercial capacity.

This doesn’t, however, mean test vehicles will hit the roads without any kind of human intervention backup.

The DMV will mandate that those testing autonomous cars without a driver present have a dedicated communications channel, linking the car to a remote operator, who can take over, as and when required.

Any companies wishing to test this way will need to secure a permit to do so from the DMV, just as with driver-present testing, and the new rules only apply to consumer passenger vehicles, not to freight trucks.