A new decision by the California Department of Motor Vehicles is set to allow companies the right to test their autonomous vehicles on public roads, and to let private citizens begin to drive them.
TechCrunch discusses this decision, explaining that the DMV was careful in making this statement, having considered many different elements of the current regulations surrounding self-driving cars before doing so. Their updated policy, working from a March 10th regulation, was changed in relation to feedback the organization received from businesses, consumers, insurance companies, and other entities.
At present, the DMV has released the revised version of their new regulations, opening an online 15-day public comment period set to end on October 25, letting people voice their concerns prior to any official changes to policy. “We are excited to take the next step in furthering the development of this potentially life-saving technology in California,” said Brian Kelly, the state’s Transportation Secretary.
The DMV made sure to emphasize that they were not attempting to override any decision by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which would be in charge of enforcing any Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards that may relate to autonomous vehicles. Before any company can be approved for testing their vehicles, said vehicles will have to undergo rigorous testing to ensure compliance with federal safety standards first.
Currently, there are 42 companies in California permitted to test autonomous vehicles on state roads, with these policy changes hopefully increasing that number in the future. Policy changes aimed at making testing safer for pedestrians and other drivers include local warnings for planned testing dates, notifications to the DMV for changes in testing, and creation of a report template for designating when a driver has taken over for the autonomous navigation system and vice versa.
Current regulations and the proposed changes can be viewed on the DMV website. Citizens can send any comments they may have to LADRegulations@dmv.ca.gov until the October 25 deadline.