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Driverless testing and public use rules for autonomous vehicles approved in California

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has announced that the Office of Administrative Law approved regulations governing the driverless testing and public use of autonomous vehicles on California roads. Prior to these rules, autonomous vehicles could only be tested in California with an approved driver.

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

This second set of regulations for autonomous vehicles in California establishes rules for testing autonomous technology without a driver and how manufacturers can allow the public to use self-driving cars. The regulations become effective on April 2, 2018, and DMV can begin issuing permits on that date.

The DMV is required to adopt regulations that cover both the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles. Testing regulations that require a driver behind the steering wheel took effect in September 2014. To date, 50 manufacturers have a permit to test autonomous vehicles with a driver. Manufacturers can continue to apply for a test permit with a driver.

Under the new regulations, vehicle manufacturers must obtain a driverless testing and/or a deployment permit from the DMV and comply with the permit requirements, if they wish to either test an autonomous vehicle without a driver or allow the public to use their autonomous technology.

The adopted regulations do not include testing and deployment of autonomous trucks and other commercial vehicles. DMV will be collaborating with the California Highway Patrol to begin exploring the unique safety and regulatory considerations associated with these vehicles.

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