California Approves Self-Driving Cars on Public Streets

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Self-driving cars are set to roll out in the Golden State later this year. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) adopted official regulations this week for testing driverless cars on public roads.

The new rules, which will take effect statewide on Sept. 16, were approved just months after the DMV held a public hearing, in January, to debate the use of self-driving cars on California streets, reported Ars Technica.

The newly adopted regulations will require companies to apply for a designated testing permit and obtain a $5 million insurance bond for protection, according to Ars Technica. The DMV will also require researchers to undergo training and complete a certification program; and the vehicle operators must remain in the driver's seat for the duration of the test drives.

Written By: Denise Chow
continue to source article at livescience.com

23 COMMENTS

  1. Ah man, no more fun songs about driving – ‘Jesus Take the Wheel’ is now moot :p

    To address the metaphorical point of the song > will technology upsurp the ‘need for a god’, filling a vacuum, or – simply segue into ‘ god, please watch over the car’s operating system, etc.’.

    • In reply to #3 by bluebird:

      Ah man, no more fun songs about driving – ‘Jesus Take the Wheel’ is now moot :p

      On the subject of songs, computers and travel, perhaps we will soon be singing “Linux row the boat ashore . . . “

    • I would guess that, at least to start with, any law on this will require a qualified, sober driver in the driving seat to make the car road legal.

      Potentially the biggest barrier could be getting insurance for such a car. Who is liable if a self-driving car is involved in an accident? The manufacturer? The human in the other car will surely blame the machine and many people (though not me) will be inclined to believe the human.

      In reply to #4 by Vorlund:

      If you are the sole occupant of a self driving car then you are a passenger, does that mean driving while intoxicated is no longer am enforceable law?

      • In reply to #7 by paulmcuk:

        I would guess that, at least to start with, any law on this will require a qualified, sober driver in the driving seat to make the car road legal.
        Potentially the biggest barrier could be getting insurance for such a car. Who is liable if a self-driving car is involved in an accident?

        Requiring the passenger to assume a driving position and responsibility would defeat the whole purpose of a self driving car.

        And the autopilot would be just another car system. Like the breaks, or power steering, or fuel system. If any of these things go wrong, and there’s not obvious signs of negligence or bad design, then the courts declare ‘no fault’. Since the insurance companies really care about driver reliability, and the google system is probably safer than the average driver, they will almost certainly not be the source of any heal-dragging on this.

  2. I don’t even trust my car to park itself! Taking my hands off the wheel requires a great deal of trust. I’ve practised a few times in very quiet conditions but I haven’t let the car have it’s way on a busy thoroughfare.

  3. I would imagine that, before the technology gets rolled out to the masses, the hardware and software involved will have to be idiot and tinkerer proofed. Then, there would have to be some contingency for, say, if a camera that is part of the autonomous driving system were to be obscured by a flying piece of paper or broken by a rock. Would the car then pull over and stop, or would there be a redundant camera that could take over? There are many safety issues to be addressed, but the potential benefits would be enormous, especially if removing the ‘human factor’ would put an end to congestion-related traffic jams.

  4. I hope there would be a manual override, which would mean the ‘driver’ would need to remain sober just in case she/he heard something like this:
    ” I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you.”
    Or:
    “This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardise it.”

    That said this could be the first step towards the saving of many lives, and the banishing of macho behaviour to the sports field…battlefields…bars…political rallies…parliament…libraries… and other places where it could do less damage.

  5. Wow! God in the driving seat?

    Actually, two friends of mine once manoeuvred a “driverless” car along my home town high street.

    Fiat 500s used to be small enough for a passenger in the back seat to reach the steering wheel, with their right arm stretched out and held against the driver’s door, unseen from outside, whilst at the same time someone in the passenger seat could reach the peddles to break and change gear.

    Hence, the appearance from outside the vehicle that it had no driver.

    Ah, happy daze!

  6. I can forsee a car taking its drunken, unconscious occupant home, like the horse of yore. Just program the route into its GPS and go on a bender – the car’s the designated driver! I’m imagining scores of autonomous cars, their owners passed out in the back seat, making their way along the streets and highways after closing time at 2 a.m., with no one behind the wheel, just a blank windshield and empty seats. It’s kind of creepy.

  7. Seriously though…. I think that there are so many lousy drivers on the road that self-driving cars will both save lives and virtually eliminate traffic jams. I think it’s a good thing.

    • In reply to #15 by NearlyNakedApe:

      Seriously though…. I think that there are so many lousy drivers on the road that self-driving cars will both save lives and virtually eliminate traffic jams. I think it’s a good thing.

      Yes it will save lives, (look at the Google program stats for example). But it would save a lot more if driverless cars were mandatory. That way standard protocols could be developed so the cars could communicate, e.g. in the event of a sensor failure or a sudden obstacle in the road.

  8. Google announces first driverless vehicles: Just saw this on the BBC website

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27587558

    Google is ahead of the game on this one – good luck to them. The prototype will be limited to 40 km/hr and have a soft exterior for pedestrian safety.

    The news that they will develop the car themselves instead of partnering with an existing manufacturer will send shockwaves through the auto-industry. Now may be a good time to ditch that GM stock you’ve been holding on to :)

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