It’s being reported that California is setting “precedent-setting draft rules” that would “slow the public’s access to self-driving cars of the future until regulators are confident the technology is safe.”
The Associated Press report, quoted on the Daily News Business website says that “cautious approach” requires that the cars have a steering wheel, and a licensed driver must be ready to take over if the machine fails.
The report says the draft sets out the framework for how the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles wants to move from the current small-scale testing of prototypes on roads and highways to giving consumers access to the fast-evolving technology, and that the DMV can change the rules over the coming months before they are finalised, and the industry is likely to contest them as overly burdensome.
Though no manufacturer has said it thinks the cars are ready just yet, at least a dozen are developing the technology, and the most aggressive suggest a model could be ready within a few years. Google’s prototype pointedly does not have a steering wheel or pedals.
AP’s report adds that, under the draft rules, even if Google thinks its car is ready for sale, that wouldn’t be immediately possible. Initially, manufacturers would receive a permit for three years, during which time consumers could lease the cars but manufacturers would be required to keep tabs on how safely they are driving and report that performance to the state.
“Given the potential risks associated with deployment of such a new technology, DMV believes that manufacturers need to obtain more experience in testing driverless vehicles on public roads prior to making this technology available to the general public,” the agency said in a written summary of the regulations.