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Industry News: California DMV Is Proposing A Ban On 'Driverless' Vehicles

William Maley

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With more and more companies test autonomous technologies on public roads, there comes a question of safety of other motorists. A new proposal by the California Department of Motor Vehicles would put an outright ban “driverless” cars that travel with no humans onboard.


Automotive News reports the proposal would require all autonomous vehicles to have a steering wheel and pedals when driving on California's public roads. Furthermore, a licensed driver with an “autonomous vehicle operator certificate” will need to be in front of the controls in case something goes wrong.


California DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said in a statement the main concern for the department is “the safety of autonomous vehicles and the safety of the public who will share the road with these vehicles.”


If this proposal goes into effect, it could cause automakers and technology companies to look elsewhere for their first deployment of self-driving vehicles.


Google, one the companies who is hard at work on autonomous technologies decried the proposal, saying it would hold back technology that could prevent crashes and improve mobility for those who can't drive.


“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,” Google spokesman Johnny Luu wrote in an e-mail.


The proposal also would require autonomous vehicles to meet new performance and safety requirements, with testing and certification done by a third-party auditor. To get a three-year operating permit, manufacturers will need to submit reports on the safety and usage of their autonomous vehicles.


“Given the potential risks associated with deployment of such a new technology, [the] 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,” the DMV said in a statement.


Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)

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