Exclusive: Self-driving vehicles without any human backups could be on California roads as soon as April

Some time in April the world of transportation will change forever.  At that time the DMV will allow autonomous cars on the road (self driving).  It has been estimated that by 2020—less than 24 months from now, self driving cars will be sold for general use in California.  Within a couple of years 250,000 will be on the road—and one of them will be mine.

“Self-driving vehicles without any backup driver in them could be allowed on California roads as soon as April under California Department of Motor Vehicles rules up for approval Monday — even sooner than the previously anticipated June launch.

The new rules have been with the Office of Administrative Law for review since January and are expected to be approved Monday, a DMV spokeswoman told the Business Times. If the regulations are approved, the DMV could issue a public notice soon after and start approving applications 30 days later. That means the state could issue permits as soon as April 2 for fully driverless vehicles. A remote operator would be required to be able to take over if anything goes wrong.”

At that point using your cell phone in a car should be OK, less gas will be used, fewer accidents and much fewer traffic tickers.  This is a game changer.  By 2030, 12 years from now, auto repairs shops will be rare and the cost of insurance will drop radically.  Some claim we will no longer own the car—instead we will have a service, when we want a car, it will arrive at our doorstep! For those that do not need a car for a long period of time, or just on some occasions, this will be cheaper—oh, and many if these cars will run on batteries, not gas.  Ready for the New World?

Self-driving cars

Exclusive: Self-driving vehicles without any human backups could be on California roads as soon as April

 

By Alisha Green, San Francisco Business Times, 2/21/18

Self-driving vehicles without any backup driver in them could be allowed on California roads as soon as April under California Department of Motor Vehicles rules up for approval Monday — even sooner than the previously anticipated June launch.

The new rules have been with the Office of Administrative Law for review since January and are expected to be approved Monday, a DMV spokeswoman told the Business Times. If the regulations are approved, the DMV could issue a public notice soon after and start approving applications 30 days later. That means the state could issue permits as soon as April 2 for fully driverless vehicles. A remote operator would be required to be able to take over if anything goes wrong.

The changes would open up the next level in the already highly-competitive race to bring fully autonomous vehicles to the masses. Since Sept. 2014, California has required approved drivers be present in autonomous vehicles in case they need to take control. There are currently 50 companies with permits to test self-driving vehicles on California roads with a driver present, with big names like General Motors-owned Cruise and Google’s Waymo, along with ride-hailing companies Lyft and Uber Technologies.

Companies could continue to apply for a permit to test with an approved driver in the vehicle. Companies wanting to test without a human would have to meet certain requirements, according to the DMV, including:

  • Certify that local authorities where vehicles will be tested have been given written notification;
  • Certify the autonomous test vehicle complies with requirements such as a communication link between the vehicle and a remote operator, a way to communicate between the vehicle and law enforcement, and that the vehicle meets all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards or provide evidence of an exemption from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration;
  • Inform the DMV of the intended “operational design domains,” or the conditions the vehicle is designed to operate in, including certain types of roads and weather conditions; and
  • Certify the autonomous vehicle is capable of operating without the presence of a driver for a vehicle that meets the description of a Level 4 or Level 5 autonomous technology under the Society of Automotive Engineers definitions. Level 4 generally refers to a car that can drive itself in most environments but may need a human to take control in bad weather, for instance, while Level 5 refers to a car that can drive itself in any conditions.

Companies wanting to deploy fully driverless cars for public use would have to meet requirements including:

  • Certify the vehicles are equipped with an autonomous vehicle data recorder, certify the technology is designed to detect and respond to roadway situations, and certify the vehicle meet federal safety standards;
  • Certify the vehicle meets current industry standards to help defend against, detect and respond to cyberattacks, unauthorized intrusions or false vehicle control commands; and
  • Certify the manufacturer has conducted test and validation methods and is satisfied the vehicle is safe for deployment on public roads.

 

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.