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Fully Self-Driving Cars On California Roads Yet To Get Approval

By Donna Bellevue , Mar 13, 2017 01:19 AM EDT
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The proposed new rules on fully self-driving cars still require companies to get approval from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The cars must also be "programmed" to follow the state's traffic laws. Finally, these proposed rules must still undergo public approval before being put into effect.

Long cautious with fully self-driving cars, the California government has changed its mind on Friday, making tech and car giants happy. The state has proposed rules that will allow cars with an empty driver's seat to operate on state roads by year's end. The new rules for the testing and deployment of autodrive are a dramatic reversal from last year's regulations.

The suggested new rules would allow companies to test self-driving cars without a human present to take over. This dramatic change of rules have removed the requirement on autonomous vehicles to have a steering wheel in place and a human passenger at all times. California's DMV had long frustrated the self-driving car industry, especially when it released rules in December 2015, which excluded fully self-driving vehicles due to safety concerns.

The California DMV has debated for years about the safety of fully self-driving cars operating on public streets. Tech and transportation companies, such as Google and Uber, resorted to shifting tests outside their home state because of the restrictive vehicle rules. While experts agree that autonomous cars will eventually be far safer than human drivers, driverless vehicles will not immediately be flawless, and might even place human lives at risk, the KSAT 12 reports.

Although still wary of the dangers, California's new proposal would allow such cars to begin testing on its roads. Once the bill is passed, car makers will no longer be required to install steering wheels and pedal controls if the vehicle’s design doesn't call for them. This would finally allow Google’s tiny pod-shaped cars to be tested in full capacity, the Slash Gear reports.

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