California DMV Approves Self-Driving Vehicle Testing Without Drivers/Engineers

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Companies testing self-driving vehicle tech in California will now be able to test their offerings without the need for the drivers/engineers of any sort present, presuming all necessary conditions are met, as the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has now granted approval for such.

To be more specific, the Office of Administrative Law in California has now approved regulations which allow for the testing of truly driverless vehicles on public roads in the state. Previous to the approval of these regulations firms were required to utilize a so-called “safety driver” who would take control in a dangerous situation.

“This is a major step forward for autonomous technology in California,” stated DMV Director Jean Shiomoto. “Safety is our top concern and we are ready to begin working with manufacturers that are prepared to test fully driverless vehicles in California.”

The new regulations come into effect on April 2, 2018, which means that permits relating to the new possibilities won’t be issued until then, at the earliest.

Here’s an overview of the requirements for such a permit (via a press release on the matter):

Certify that local authorities, where vehicles will be tested, have been provided written notification.
Certify the autonomous test vehicle complies with requirements that include a communication link between the vehicle and remote operator, a process to communicate between the vehicle and law enforcement, and an explanation of how the manufacturer will monitor test vehicles.
Submit a copy of a law enforcement interaction plan.
Certify the autonomous test vehicle meets all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) or provide evidence of an exemption from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Certify the autonomous test vehicle is capable of operating without the presence of a driver and meets the autonomous technology description of a Level 4 or Level 5 under the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) definitions.
Inform the DMV of the intended operational design domains.
Maintain a training program for remote operations and certify each operator has completed training.
Submit an annual disengagement report and submit collision reports to the DMV within 10 days.

And also the requirements for public use of such vehicles:

Certify the vehicle is equipped with an autonomous vehicle data recorder, the technology is designed to detect and respond to roadway situations in compliance with California Vehicle Code, and the vehicle complies with all FMVSS or provide evidence of an exemption from NHTSA.
Certify the vehicle meets current industry standards to help defend against, detect and respond to cyber-attacks, unauthorized intrusions or false vehicle control commands.
Certify the manufacturer has conducted test and validation methods and is satisfied the vehicle is safe for deployment on public roads.
Submit a copy of a law enforcement interaction plan.
If the vehicle does not require a driver, the manufacturer must also certify to other requirements, including a communication link between the vehicle and a remote operator and the ability to display or transfer vehicle owner or operator information in the event of a collision.

It should be realized that these regulations don’t relate to the use of commercial vehicles, as further legislation will be required on that count.

Interesting news, things seem to be accelerating in the self-driving vehicle sector.

In related news, Waymo seems to now be getting ready to open its self-driving vehicle testing in Arizona to the general public — a move that would represent the first deployment of truly driverless taxis in the US.


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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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