New DMV rules would allow testing of driverless vehicles without human in car

New DMV rules would allow testing of driverless vehicles without human in car

Responding to industry criticism and public uncertainty, California has rejiggered its rules to accommodate fully driverless vehicles. “California’s new proposals follow a Michigan law passed in December, which allowed testing with no human driver. It also created a framework for selling autonomous cars,” according to Bloomberg. “The proposed regulations have a 45-day public comment period that ends April 24. That will be followed by a public hearing.”

In it’s announcement, the DMV emphasized that changing technological standards had shifted expectations. “The draft regulations would expand the state’s existing autonomous vehicle testing program to keep pace with the rapid development of the technology,” Bloomberg BNA reported, citing the Department of Motor Vehicles. “The newly proposed rules would not require a human in the car, a change from the current rules.” The news was a boon for competitors in the crowded driverless space, which includes key legacy manufacturers as well as new tech entrants. “Tesla Motors Inc., Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Volkswagen AG and Baidu Inc., are among the 23 manufacturers on the list of approved participants for the California testing program,” Bloomberg BNA noted. 

The list also included “self-driving startups such as Zoox, Drive.ai, AutoX and PlusAI,” Fortune reported, along with “China-funded electric vehicle startups NextEV and Faraday Future. Earlier this week, California granted a testing permit to ride services firm Uber Technologies after a legal standoff last December.”

Hailing robots

The Uber grant signaled a real sea change in life on California roads. Although autonomous cars could fan out across roads as soon as this year, the bulk of consumer experiences was expected to shift away from owned cars to pay-per-use. “Among other things, the revisions would permit ride-hailing services to pick up passengers in cars without human drivers on board,” Car and Driver observed. “For now, these rides would remain solely in the realm of testing, and companies providing them would be prohibited from charging fees for those services. Nonetheless, the prospect of ride-hailing services like Uber or Lyft picking up riders in autonomous vehicles within a matter of months is the latest sign of just how quickly the autonomous age may be approaching.”

Both tech and safety advocates have found reason to cheer the promised transformation. “Some 3,000 people die on its roads every year, and self-driving cars could eliminate the human error that causes 90 percent of crashes,” according to Wired. “They could make more people more mobile, reduce emissions (maybe), and boost the economy.” 

New frameworks

Driverless car companies were not released from key regulatory obligations at the sometimes blurry nexus of state and federal rules. “If companies test vehicles without conventional controls, they have to show the California DMV that they have approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” Bloomberg reported, citing California DMV Chief Counsel Brian Soublet. “NHTSA said in early 2016 that self-driving software systems, not just humans, can be considered drivers.”

But federal regulators, in turn, will be looking to California’s unfolding experience for cues going forward. “The DMV’s rules are going to shift a big part of the conversation to the federal level,” University of South Carolina driverless expert Bryant Walker Smith told Wired. “Federal regulators seem eager to advance autonomy (chiefly for the safety benefits), so what happens on California’s roads may well be replicated across the U.S., and even internationally,” the magazine added. 

That has meant a special burden for Sacramento, where the ins and outs of insurance and other questions must be hammered out a step at a time. “California state lawmakers are starting the long process of deciding who should be held responsible when these new vehicles crash on state roadways or are potentially hacked by criminals,” as Capital Public Radio reported. “The California State Senate Committee on Insurance heard testimony on those questions and others at the state Capitol [March 8]. The informational hearing raised more questions than it answered.”

8 comments

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  1. Standing Fast
    Standing Fast 17 March, 2017, 14:04

    Folks, I don’t know about you, but I think this is insanity.

    Reply this comment
  2. Transport Trends
    Transport Trends 20 March, 2017, 09:13

    More self-flying cars in rural areas of Ca. could reduce
    Cal Trans road maintenance costs and responsibilities and allow for budget transfers to water storage/delivery infrastructure.True or False?

    Reply this comment
    • Standing Fast
      Standing Fast 20 March, 2017, 11:23

      “Self-flying cars” is it now?The problem with this, and other discussions about the wonders of the latest technology, is that advocates of the innovation are always willfully myopic. All they talk about is what they want us to see. The real world doesn’t really exist for them.

      And, because they seem to think they are always the smartest person in the room, they constantly dismiss any suggestion that these contraptions can never be made flawless, or that on account of that people will die because of their flaws. Or that the contraption will, as they always do, to create a new set of problems that will have to be dealt with whether we like it or not. Or some other thing that will make life miserable for somebody.

      And this is an entirely separate discussion from the problems that might occur from ordinary malfunction of their complex and complicated computerized electronic systems. All of which cannot be anticipated or mitigated before they happen.

      But, the thing that really makes no sense to me is that advocates of these science-fiction cartoon-style technologies fail to grasp the obvious: if the day comes when machines do everything human beings do now, human beings will forget how to do things for ourselves. We will become incapable of taking care of ourselves and one another.

      And in that day, we will lose the last shred of our dignity, which is about the only virtue we have to recommend us in the vast scheme of things.

      It is my view that the Universe is an orderly place and that the Laws of Cause and Effect which govern it apply to us, too. More and more, I’m thinking the Power who created the Universe made us for His purposes.

      Consequently, I do not think the road to happiness lies in getting machines to do our work and our thinking for us. I think it lies in living according to God’s commandments–which include doing good to our fellow man and taking better care of the planet we call home.

      That is what lifts us up, fulfills our need to belong to society, makes life worth living, makes life better for ourselves and others.

      Reply this comment
      • Exodus
        Exodus 20 March, 2017, 11:34

        Yes,Yes,Standing fast……praise Allah!
        Pedestrian walkways must be incorporated into all
        existing super highways and county roads.

        Reply this comment
        • Standing Fast
          Standing Fast 20 March, 2017, 11:37

          You don’t see a downside to all of this gratuitous technology?

          Reply this comment
          • Transport Trends
            Transport Trends 20 March, 2017, 16:11

            Yes I do and agree with you to a large extent.
            From my immediate local perspective living where
            many roads need expensive repairs and where the parcels are large and zoned Agriculture Exclusive/Timber Production/Habitat Preserve,
            flying cars could be a high tech and ecological efficiency with taxpayer cost savings.
            ‘Self-flying car’ concept was hyperbole/satire.
            Logs may still be transported more efficiently by
            road.
            Flying cars might find a market here in Nor-Cal.
            Thank you for requesting clarification!
            I

  3. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 21 March, 2017, 09:56

    How about a fly car like from THE JETSONS you press a little button and it holds up int a breifcase and a self drives car that drives moonbeam to the nearists prison for a 50 year sentence

    Reply this comment
    • Mike Meyer
      Mike Meyer 22 March, 2017, 16:23

      The Jetsons did come to mind when I first read about the
      ready for market flying cars,Spur.P .
      Now, Considering the second amendment,a living constitution interpretation of our right to bear,should
      carplane models offer extras like,electromagnetic railguns and lasers etc.?
      PS What did Jerry do to warrant a fifty year sentence?
      -please elaborate-
      Would you also sentence AH-Node?

      Reply this comment

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