There are a few states in the country that have allowed companies to test their autonomous cars on public roads. However, it has been made mandatory to have a human driver behind the wheel at all times in case something goes wrong. With 42 companies testing autonomous cars in California, the state is taking things one step further. It’s going to allow autonomous cars without human drivers behind the wheel on its roads starting next year.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles released its revised regulations today which confirm that autonomous cars without steering wheels, mirrors, foot pedals, and human drivers will be allowed for testing on public roads starting 2018.
There’s a 15 day public comment period for these new regulations before the DMV passes them on to the state government. The enforcement will take place at some point next year, it’s not exactly clear precisely when these new regulations will go in effect.
It’s not surprising that California is opening up to the future of autonomous driving. It has given licenses to 42 companies that are testing 285 self-driving cars in the states.
Almost 1,000 safety drivers have been licensed to sit in those autonomous test beds. Once the new regulations go into effect, the companies testing these cars will no longer be required to have human drivers behind the wheel.
That’s not to say autonomous cars will become commonplace next year. Companies will have to wait for approval or a waiver for exemption from the federal government before they put a fully autonomous vehicle on public roads.