Driverless Cars without Safety Drivers Permitted on California Roads

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Fully driverless cars will be seen on public roads in California, as announced by the state on April 2, 2018.

California started accepting applications for fully driverless vehicles to start testing on public roads. This initiative of the state is not the first one related to driverless car tests. However, the difference is that they previously permitted driverless vehicles as long as there was a human safety driver at the wheel. The new approval for testing applies to driverless vehicles without any human intervention.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles outlined requirements for obtaining a driverless permit, including proper security to resist cyberattacks, two-way communications equipment, and non- autonomous operations of these vehicle outside designated areas and required conditions.

After the fatal accident in Arizona involving a pedestrian death due to self-driving SUV owned by Uber, this move by California seems bold. However, California is focused on carefully regulating permits and set up rights to immediately suspend or revoke a driverless testing permit in case of evidence found for unsafe practices by the company.

Testing of Level 4 autonomous vehicles is outlined in the SAE guidelines, and vehicles following these guidelines are permitted to test on the roads in California. Companies such as Waymo are currently testing Level 4-capable vehicles.

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