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Autonomous Cars to Be Allowed on California Roads Starting Next Year

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has just released its revised regulations governing the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles on public roads. After a 15-day public comment period, those rules will be submitted to the state government, which will then begin enforcing them sometime in the middle of 2018.

California is an obvious hotbed for autonomous vehicle testing, so changes made to the state’s rules governing these tests are followed closely by companies like Google and Uber that are developing fleets of self-driving cars for public use. There are currently 42 companies testing some 285 autonomous vehicles that are licensed with the DMV, officials said. Nearly 1,000 safety drivers are licensed to test those vehicles, but after the state’s rules go into effect, companies would be allowed to deploy cars without any human behind the wheel.

Autonomous Cars

The rules are a stark departure from the original proposal issued in 2015. Those draft regulations would have put the kibosh on autonomous vehicles without a human driver, such as Google’s steering wheel-less prototype. But then in May, the agency reversed itself, putting out a new proposal that would not only allow for the testing of self-driving cars without a human driver, but also regulate the manufacture and sale of fully autonomous vehicles.

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