California Sharply Expands Use of Self-Driving Cars, If They Are Safe

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After years of tests, self-driving cars without a backup driver can start to operate in California. However, among the rules necessary to get a permit for these vehicles, the companies that operate them need to prove they are safe.

New rules from the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles stress the safety issue. As the new guidelines were released, DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said:

This is a major step forward for autonomous technology in California. Safety is our top concern and we are ready to begin working with manufacturers that are prepared to test fully driverless vehicles in California.

The new regulations go into effect on April 2. About 50 companies already have permits to operate self-driving cars in California under earlier programs.

Among the new requirements to deploy self-driving cars without human backup drivers:

Certify the vehicle is equipped with an autonomous vehicle data recorder, the technology is designed to detect and respond to roadway situations in compliance with California Vehicle Code, and the vehicle complies with all FMVSS or provide evidence of an exemption from NHTSA.

Certify the vehicle meets current industry standards to help defend against, detect and respond to cyber-attacks, unauthorized intrusions or false vehicle control commands.

Certify the manufacturer has conducted test and validation methods and is satisfied the vehicle is safe for deployment on public roads.

Submit a copy of a law enforcement interaction plan.

If the vehicle does not require a driver, the manufacturer must also certify to other requirements, including a communication link between the vehicle and a remote operator and the ability to display or transfer vehicle owner or operator information in the event of a collision.

The DMV will work with the California Highway Patrol to keep watch over the safety of all test vehicles.