March 13, 2017—The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issued proposed rules for the testing and deployment of fully self-driving vehicles Friday, reports CNN. The news appears to clear the way for cars with an empty driver's seat to operate on state roads by year's end.
California's DMV had long frustrated the self-driving car industry, CNN stated. The DMV previously missed a deadline for autonomous vehicle rules. And when it released rules in December 2015, it excluded fully self-driving vehicles, citing safety concerns. Over the years, some companies, such as Google and Uber, resorted to shifting tests outside their home state.
The California DMV has wrestled for years with how to comfortably sign off on a self-driving car operating on public streets. While experts agree that self-driving cars will eventually be far safer than human drivers, autonomous vehicles will not immediately be flawless or even better than a human. Governments worldwide are struggling with how to certify that a fully autonomous vehicle allowed to drive on public roads is safe enough.
The DMV previously considered using a third party to examine vehicle data, or external test tracks for autonomous vehicles. But Friday it revealed it would allow manufacturers to self-certify that their vehicles are safe, a move that follows in the footsteps of the current federal government plan for autonomous vehicles.
The DMV also took a step toward embracing new vehicle forms, such as a car without a steering wheel or pedals. Under its proposed rules, the DMV will allow cars without a steering wheel or pedals, provided that the maker has the approval of the National Highway Traffic Safety Association.