California moves toward public access for self-driving cars

Posted at 2:27 PM, Oct 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-11 17:39:03-04

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- California regulators have taken an important step to clear the road for everyday people to get self-driving cars.

The state's Department of Motor Vehicles on Wednesday published proposed rules that would govern the technology within California, where manufacturers have been testing hundreds of prototypes on roads and highways.

The regulations will undergo a 15-day public comment period, ending Oct. 25.

RELATED: Ford, Lyft team up to test self-driving vehicles

That testing requires a trained safety driver behind the wheel, just in case. Though companies are not ready to unleash the technology for regular drivers, the nation's largest state expects to have a framework ready by June.

Under that framework, which could be tweaked in coming weeks, companies could begin testing prototypes with no steering wheel or pedals -- and nobody at all inside. That advanced technology is likely several years away from public access.

"The department looks forward to seeing those companies and additional companies advance the technology under these new regulations," DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said. "Today’s action continues the department’s efforts to complete these regulations by the end of the year."

RELATED: Delivery without drivers: Domino's, Ford team up for test

To date, 42 companies hold permits to test their autonomous vehicle technology on state roadways. Regulations for testing the vehicles have been in place since 2014.

"We are excited to take the next step in furthering the development of this potentially life-saving technology in California," California Transportation Secretary Brian Kelly said.