LOS ANGELES (KPIX 5/AP) — Driverless cars will be tested on California roads for the first time without a human being behind a steering wheel under new rules for the fast-developing technology.
The regulations approved Monday are a major step toward getting autonomous vehicles onto the streets of California.
Until now, driverless cars could only be tested with human backup drivers who could take over in an emergency.
One of the few places you can see an autonomous car with no human operator inside, is at Waymo’s secret private test track in the Central Valley town of Atwater.
But the California DMV has officially laid out the ground rules for the next phase of autonomous car testing. Manufacturers can apply for permits allowing driverless testing when the regulations go into effect April 2.
Among the rules self-driving car companies must follow:
- Provide evidence of insurance or a bond equal to $5 million.
- Verify vehicles are capable of operating without a driver and meet federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and is a SAE Level 4 or 5 vehicle.
- Confirm vehicles have been tested under controlled conditions that simulate the planned area of operation.
- Notify local governments of planned testing in the area.
- Develop a Law Enforcement Interaction Plan that provides information to law enforcement and other first responders on how to interact with test vehicles in the event of a crash or other incident.
- Continuously monitor the status of test vehicles and providing two-way communication with any passangers.
- Train remote operators on the technology tested.
The rules approved by California’s Office of Administrative Law also create the framework under which consumers can eventually buy driverless cars.
Driverless testing permit holders must also report to the DMV any collisions involving a driverless test vehicle within 10 days and submit an annual report of disengagements.
And if possible, police officers should be able to disengage the autonomous mode.
The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles says it’s a big boost for regulations that have been in the works for years.
Californians could be seeing empty cars driving themselves on public roads in about a month.
The cars are not required to have any special markings, so the only way to know for sure if there’s no human there, is to just peek inside and look for an empty seat.
Glenn Stevens with MICHauto, an advocacy group for the auto industry in Michigan, said, he thinks it’s a positive step for the tech industry and the auto industry.
Stevens says California’s regulatory move will encourage other states, and countries, to keep moving forward on autonomous vehicle technology.
© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.