Last Friday, California’s public utility regulator announced that it would allow autonomous cars without a driver behind its wheel. It can be considered as a big step towards the progress of autonomous vehicles since the autonomous industry have been experiencing major safety concerns lately.
Till now most of the companies were driving autonomous cars with the assistance of the driver, but now companies like Alphabet Inc’s Waymo and General Motors Co. are giving the opportunity to the public users to ride the car without any backup driver present. The proposal was issued by The California Public Utilities Commission which handles all the matters related to transportation companies or any ride-hailing apps.
This week, The California Department of Motor Vehicles has issued rules which allow the testing the autonomous vehicles to run on the roads without any driver. The proposed rules are complementing the existing DMV rules but are also providing additional protections for passengers, as is said by the commission.
The proposal would clear the way for companies which would want to test their vehicles and to make the public more acquainted with the driverless cars. The proposal is set to be voted next week. But since a self-driving car killed a pedestrian in Arizona in a crash, the regulators are taking a harder look at self-driving cars. Last month, an Uber SUV operating in self-driving mode struck and killed a 49-year-old woman. Uber suspended its self-driving car operations, and the crash remains under investigation by federal safety officials.
According to the proposal, the companies have to take a permit from the DMV 90 days prior to picking up passengers from the roads. The service must be free – companies are not allowed to accept payment from passengers – passengers must be 18 years or older and no airport trips are allowed.
The regulators have to make sure that the companies file regular reports and the number of miles their self-driving vehicles travel rides they complete and disabled passengers they are serving.
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