Draft proposals have been published which could pave the way for the public to use self-driving cars on roads in California.
The recommendations, from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), will also allow manufacturers to test driverless vehicles on public roads.
A number of companies around the world, including Google and Ford, are heavily involved in developing self-driving cars.
However, the Californian proposals err on the side of caution: self-driving vehicles would not be available to the public in the near future, and vehicles offering the ‘self drive’ capability must be fitted with traditional controls.
In a statement, the DMV said: “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 DMV also insists that a fully licensed driver must be behind the wheel, ready to take over in an emergency or if the technology fails, and in the case of the vehicle being involved in any traffic violations or collisions, the responsibility would remain with the human driver.
Under the proposals, prospective users of self-driving cars will need to undergo special training, and manufacturers would be required to monitor the cars’ use.
Jean Shiomoto, DMV director, said: “The primary focus of the deployment regulations is the safety of autonomous vehicles and the safety of the public who will share the road with these vehicles.
“We want to get public input on these draft regulations before we initiate the formal regulatory rule making process.”
Last week, documents made available under a freedom of information request revealed that Internet giant Google has held five meetings with the Department for Transport (DfT) in the last two years about the prospect of introducing driverless cars to the UK.
Photo: Alan via Flickr: use under creative commons.