California Dmv Jan.brownjalopnik: This year, California DMV will finally allow permit holders to operate their self-driving vehicles on public roads. This includes both autonomous cars with backup drivers and those without them. The regulations will go into effect on Jan. 17, but it’s not just startups like Waymo and Uber who’ll be able to test the new policies — all permit holders can take advantage of the new self-driving laws right away.
There are some limitations, however. For a longer period of time, autonomous vehicles with backup drivers will need a person in the driver’s seat ready to take over in case of an emergency. Only after extensive testing will they be allowed to operate without backup drivers on public roads. In both these cases, a permit holder will have to inform the DMV about their vehicle’s model and serial number, as well as its testing methods and results. The DMV will check that the information is accurate and then begin the process of approving it.
The data will be used to set standards for future testing, but until autonomous cars are ready to hit the road, it’s not clear how the DMV plans to gain experience at rolling back or regulating their operations. Even if companies like Waymo and Uber operate with limited testing on California roads, this experience may not necessarily be useful for other states who could require entirely different standards.
This new rule is part of California’s efforts to head off other states from legalizing autonomous vehicles. For example, in May, Colorado passed a bill that would allow for testing of self-driving cars with and without drivers on public roads. Similar legislation is pending in Michigan as well as Arizona. Although California lawmakers are clearly worried about the rapid changes happening in the industry, they’re not planning to go so far as they could risk being left behind.
According to the governor’s office, California has the most comprehensive set of rules and regulations for autonomous vehicle technology in the US. The state also boasts a highly educated workforce meant to support innovation within its borders.
Gov. Jerry Brown is also looking at how to integrate self-driving vehicles into public transit systems. Barcelona — another city known for its extensive public transit infrastructure — will be working with Los Angeles in this area until the end of this month on a program called CUTE (ConneXions: Urban Transport Environment). The program includes the use of self-driving buses.
“There’s no better place to foster innovation than in California,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this month while announcing plans to allow self-driving vehicles to operate in that state. “We are proud that we are again leading the nation by being the first state to begin public testing of autonomous vehicles. This is about pushing the technological and legislative boundaries to encourage innovation.” This announcement parallels the news from this month that Ontario, Canada, has started testing self-driving buses.
Even though the US government has not made any plans to increase federal oversight over autonomous vehicles, some states — including Florida and Wisconsin — have started drafting legislation to regulate them. Massachusetts is also working on new laws related to self-driving vehicles while in New York they’re expected to be released in July.
Among tech companies, Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. has been at the forefront of testing self-driving cars. Waymo, now a subsidiary of Alphabet, has also been lobbying for laws that allow humans to oversee fully self-driving vehicles. Most car companies have also been working on developing the technology — and they’ve teamed up with ride-sharing companies like Lyft Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. to use it in commercial applications.