"It could be sooner than that, but it's all contingent on when the regulations are approved", said Soublet.
The onward march (or rather drive) of autonomous vehicles shows no signs of slowing down, with proposals under consideration in California to allow cars without any human passengers or drivers on to public roads for the first time.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles is continuing with its push to have fully autonomous vehicles on the road in the Golden State as early as June of next year, releasing a revised set of regulations for driverless car operation in the state on Wednesday. The testing bed of these companies has always been California.
The new draft regulations add requirements for companies testing self-driving cars to notify local authorities about where and when the testing will occur, but impose no requirement to ask for permission, the DMV said in a conference call. It will likely be years before driverless cars make their way to the showroom of your local dealership, but officials hope to have the new regulations in place by June.
California's change in tack comes as other states build momentum with looser regulations. Compliance is voluntary, and California's deferring to the federal rules will weaken safety protections for people using roads.
The group also supports a provision in the proposed rules that prohibits manufacturers from exaggerating their cars' self-driving capabilities in advertising and at the sales point. Considerable pushback from the tech industry followed, and in September 2016, the DMV put out new proposed rules that would allow autonomous vehicles without a backup driver as long as the vehicles complied with federal regulations.
Companies including Ford, Tesla, Apple, General Motors, Alphabet's Waymo, and others expressed concerns on April 25 when the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) held a public hearing about the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles. Manufacturers still require approval or a waiver for exemption from the federal government before operating a vehicle on public roads without a human driver or conventional controls such as a steering wheel or pedals. Singapore has already established zones for autonomous vehicle testing, and other nations are pushing to assume the pole position in the autonomous vehicle race. The new rules do not, however, relax prohibitions against testing autonomous vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds. After a 15-day public comment period, those rules will be submitted to the state government, which will then begin enforcing them sometime in the middle of 2018. On top of that, they have to show that the cars know how to react to certain unexpected conditions.
John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog said Wednesday that California is ceding too much authority to the Trump administration. Do they go too far? State responsibility will focus on licensing human drivers, conducting inspections and regulating auto insurance.
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