A major step towards fully autonomous vehicles ate driverless cars
Driverless cars plying California’s roads are about to get a little more driverless.
Under new regulation passed by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), self-driving cars will be permitted to use public roads without carrying a human who can take over if things go awry. The regulations still require people to be supervising the cars remotely.
The news represents a major step for the burgeoning autonomous car industry and eases the path for California to continue playing a prominent role. Arizona has already cleared the way for cars without human operators, issuing a permit this year for Waymo – a unit of Alphabet Inc – to operate a commercial ride-hailing service using a fleet of driverless cars.
“This is a major step forward for autonomous technology in California,” California DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said in a statement.
Prominent companies – including technology giants like Google and Uber and older car manufacturers like Ford and Honda – are all vying for a slice of what they believe will be a lucrative and transformative business.
Fifty companies are currently permitted to test autonomous cars with drivers in California, according to the state’s DMV. Companies will be able to apply for permits to test cars without drivers in April.
Self-driving vehicles have already logged millions of miles of test drives on public roads in an effort to perfect the technology. Pilot projects have deployed the cars to cruise the streets of multiple American cities.
Self-driving lorries to be trialled in England
Reports filed with California showing the rate of driverless car disengagement – in other words, when a human riding along takes over – show operators for heavyweights like Waymo and GM’s Cruise switching from autonomous mode less frequently.