California is one step closer to letting companies test self-driving cars without a human driver

The California DMV has proposed regulations that will allow self-driving cars to be tested on public roads without a driver present.

The proposed rules will allow companies to test self-driving cars without driver controls or a backup driver present. The California DMV will refer to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s guidelines for self-driving vehicles to ensure cars are eligible for the tests.

In September, NHTSA released voluntary guidelines asking automakers to meet a 15-point safety assessment. The assessment asked manufacturers to ensure consumers knew what kind of data the cars were collecting and that the cars could react safely in the event of a crash, among other things.

The California DMV is requiring automakers to submit a copy of the NHTSA safety assessment letter in order to test self-driving cars without a driver present. The draft regulations also require a remote operator to be able to engage with the vehicle and that companies report any collisions or incidents where a self-driving car had to be taken over manually.

The proposed regulations, published Friday, mark the start of a 45-day public commentary period. A public hearing about the regulations will take place April 25.

The California DMV initially received criticism from Google in 2015 for releasing draft regulations for self-driving cars that prohibited vehicles without driver controls from driving on public roads.

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