Driverless Cars Outlawed in California

Autonomous cars, self-driving cars, driver-less cars – whatever you call them, they’re one of the most amazing things carmakers ever created. However, it seems that not everyone loves the idea of a machine running on the road on its own.

Just recently, the California Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) proposed new laws strictly regulating the testing of self-driving cars. One of the said rules requires driverless cars to have a fully licensed driver behind the wheel at all times – getting major players like Google perplexed and unhappy.

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Here’s what the governing agency specifically stipulated in the draft of its proposed law:

Licensed Driver Required in Vehicle:

A licensed operator will be required to be present inside the vehicle and be capable of taking control in the event of a technology failure or other emergency. Driverless vehicles are initially excluded from deployment.  The department will address the unique safety, performance, and equipment requirements associated with fully autonomous vehicles in subsequent regulatory packages.

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Chris Umson, Google’s Director of Self-Driving Cars, described DMV’s move as perplexing. “This maintains the same old status quo and falls short on allowing this technology to reach its full potential, while excluding those who need to get around but cannot drive,” Umson wrote in his blog.

 “We’ve heard countless stories from people who need a fully self-driving car today. People with health conditions ranging from vision problems to multiple sclerosis to autism to epilepsy who are frustrated with their dependence on others for even simple errands.”

DMV, on the other hand, defended its proposal saying that the “draft regulations are designed to address complex questions related to vehicle safety, certification, operator responsibilities, licensing and registration, privacy, and cybersecurity”.

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A public consultation on the proposed rules for self-driving cars will be conducted in January next year. If all goes well, autonomous car developers might have a chance to demonstrate the effectiveness of computer controlled vehicles than the human-controlled ones, and get rid of the requirement for a license driver behind the wheel altogether.

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