California has long been Google’s playground, with driverless cars zipping around the Golden State’s roads. While it’s only a small number, state regulators haven’t been about the concept as a whole apparently, as the state’s DMV recently proposed laws that threaten the very concept of driverless cars.
The California DMV wants all autonomous cars from here on out to feature a somewhat human presence, meaning that even if there’s no driver anyway, there’d still be a legal requirement for a human to ride shotgun (and assumedly ask the typical million questions about the outlier radio station setting and complain, regardless if it’s gangsta rap or NPR).
Here’s what the California DMV wants to see happen.
Manufacturers must submit autonomous vehicles to third-party testing to verify the car’s “ability to perform key driving maneuvers that are typically encountered in real-world driving conditions.”
A licensed driver with an autonomous vehicle operator certificate, issued by the California DMV, must be present in the vehicle at all times, “and must be capable of taking over immediate control in the event of an autonomous technology failure or other emergency.” In addition, the operator will be responsible for all traffic violations that occur while operating the autonomous vehicle.
Manufacturers must apply for a permit, and submit monthly reports on performance, safety, and usage of autonomous vehicles, in order to test them on California roads. As a condition of the permit, “autonomous vehicles can only be operated by the manufacturer or made available to the public on no more than a leased basis.” In other words, no privately-owned autonomous cars.
- Manufacturers must also disclose to autonomous vehicle operators what information will be collected by the vehicle, and they must get written approval by the operators.
The DMV’s concerned about ““the safety of autonomous vehicles and the safety of the public who will share the road with these vehicles.” Meanwhile, it’s no secret that, with these laws, tech companies as well as the many auto companies certified for autonomous car testing—BMW, Ford, Honda, Tesla, and several more—would take a hit.
Google spokesperson Johnny Luu laid out the negative impact on innovation.
“Safety is our highest priority and primary motivator as we do this. We’re gravely disappointed that California is already writing a ceiling on the potential for fully self-driving cars to help all of us who live here.”
The DMV still wants to hear what public thinks though, so it’s holding meetings on January 28 in Sacramento and February 2 in Los Angeles.