California set to allow cars sans driver

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CALIFORNIA, which always leads globally in implementing new auto laws and adopting new auto technologies, last week set into motion regulations that would allow autonomous vehicles to operate on state roads in test projects without a human operator.

A revised regulation that could take effect in 2018 would eliminate a provision in an earlier draft that required “physical control by a natural person sitting in the vehicle’s driver’s seat” in any autonomous car.

The language was replaced with a requirement for “supervising the autonomous technology’s performance of the dynamic driving task.”

The California Department of Motor Vehicles said in the statement the change was made to remove a requirement that “could be unnecessarily limiting on the development of the technology” and to provide flexibility to allow remote monitoring. The new rules come with a growing number of tech firms and automakers testing self-driving vehicles, and follow new guidelines from the federal government aimed at spurring the technology widely believed to improve road safety and reduce accidents. — AFP