SACRAMENTO, California – Self-driving cars, especially those without a human driver and traditional controls, are facing restrictions, according to a new proposal by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
The proposal would ban “driverless” cars and those without steering wheels and pedals when operating on public roads in the state in an effort to ensure that the technology is “deployed in a safe and responsible manner,” the DMV said.
“Given the potential risks associated with the deployment of such a new technology, DMV believes that manufacturers need to obtain more experience in testing driverless vehicles on public roads prior to making this technology available to the general public,” said the DMV in a summary of the proposed regulations published on Wednesday.
It added: “The draft regulations exclude autonomous vehicles that are capable of operating without the presence of a driver.”
Although 11 manufacturers currently hold a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California, the proposal is expected to have a major impact on Google’s self-driving car project.
According to Google’s November report, the tech giant currently is testing 18 Lexus RX 450h SUVs and 23 Google prototype pod cars that are capable of operating in autonomous mode in Mountain View, California.
When the vehicles are in autonomous model, “the software is driving the vehicle and test drivers are not touching the manual controls,” the report said.
“In developing vehicles that can take anyone from A to B at the push of a button, we’re hoping to transform mobility for millions of people, whether by reducing the 94 percent of accidents caused by human error or bringing everyday destinations within reach of those who might otherwise be excluded by their inability to drive a car,” wrote Courtney Hohne, a Google spokeswoman, in response to a query from Edmunds. “Safety is our highest priority and primary motivator as we do this. We’re gravely disappointed that California is already writing a ceiling on the potential for fully self-driving cars to help all of us who live here.
The proposal also calls for autonomous vehicle operators to be licensed drivers with an “autonomous vehicle operator certificate issued by the DMV.
“The operator will be responsible for monitoring the safe operation of the vehicle at all times and must be capable of taking over immediate control in the event of an autonomous technology failure or other emergency,” it said.
The self-driving vehicles must also be equipped with the capability of detecting, responding and alerting the operator to cyberattacks.
“In the event of such an alert, the autonomous vehicle operator will have the capability to override the autonomous technology,” the proposal said.
Manufacturers would also be required to get a three-year operating permit for the vehicles and submit monthly reports on the performance, safety and usage of the self-driving cars.
The DMV will hold public hearings on the proposal at 10 a.m. on January 28 at the Harper Alumni Center at California State University in Sacramento and at 10 a.m. on February 2 at the Junipero Serra Building in Los Angeles.
Edmunds says: This proposal may limit the widespread deployment of self-driving cars while putting a greater emphasis on steps to protect public safety.