It has now been confirmed that self-driving cars will be able to move along California highways mid next year thanks to revised rules affecting the deployment of these vehicles. The new regulations are a result of a compromise with motor vehicle and technology companies.
The Previous Versus The Current Rules on Self-Driving Cars
The California rules may still contradict federal legislation that bars states from authorizing autonomous vehicles. However, they are a break-through for manufacturers of motor-vehicles who want to launch vehicles that operate without human controls in California. Over 40 companies in California are running tests on self-driving vehicles with human controls. Many of these vehicle manufacturers have research centers.
Previous rules required firms to present safety assessment reports to state regulators and to seek fresh authorization for new vehicles. They also required driverless cars to have a backup human driver.
According to the Association of Global Automakers, a trade union representing mostly European and Asian automakers, California had not gone far enough in its new rules. The trade group stated that a special permit was still a requirement for deploying, an issue that raised concerns on whether autonomous vehicles would be able to go beyond state lines.
Companies are still required to have a California permit to test or release their vehicles on state roads. Furthermore, automakers and technology firms would still be required to provide information regarding autonomous sensors that are triggered 30 seconds before a crash. Vehicles must also follow all the state laws, except when the safety of road users and a vehicle’s occupants is at stake.
Opponents of the New Rules
Consumer Watchdog was against the revisions arguing that California’s earlier regulations were much stricter. The group further noted that local communities would not be able to block testing under the new rules.
Implications of the Senate Bill
Last week, a bill was approved by Senate with the aim of fast tracking the deployment of self-driving vehicles without human controls in the U.S.. The bill also bars states against imposing regulatory road barriers for these automated vehicles.
The Bill allows automakers to be exempted from safety rules involving human controls if they adhere to certain standards. States were permitted to set rules on licensing, registration, insurance, liability, and safety inspections. However, the performance standards were regulated by federal laws. According to Mary Barra, General Motors’ Chief Executive, the federal legislation will allow automakers to deploy these vehicles on the road. Barra; however, did not say when the company would be seeking approval for exemption.