That is if California’s DMV gets their way on how to treat the most advanced of self-driving cars. Late on Friday, September 30th they issued a revision to their draft for self-driving car regulations that the most advanced (meaning capable of full autonomy) self-driving cars will no longer need a licensed driver. That’s right! Even your tween sons and daughters will be able to get behind the “wheel” of these cars and get on with their busy Snapchat lives while “driving”.
This is a major reversal from their initial draft, which mandated that self-driving cars must have a licensed driver at the wheel, just in case something happens that require human input as a manual backup. This mandate from the first draft released in December 2015 disappointed the automotive and tech giants as they envisioned cars that contained no steering wheels and no pedals, rendering them to be FULLY autonomous. Companies like Google maintain the belief that human drivers aren’t very good and that most accidents are the direct result of human error.According to The Guardian:
The DMV’s new document coincides with the release last week of a 112-page federal proposal under which any self-driving car should pass a 15-point safety assessment before the public can use it.
Among other things, the safety assessment asks automakers to document how the car detects and avoids objects and pedestrians; how hardened it is against cyber-attacks; and how its back-up systems will cope should the software fail.
In incorporating the federal approach, California dropped a proposal that a third-party company certify the safety of self-driving cars.
That third-party certification was originally intended to control the deployment of these cars in three-year spurts, requiring them to submit monthly reports that discuss the usage, performance, and safety of these cars. That certification will then allow the self-driving car companies to issue leases or operate them as a service.
The new draft regulations released on Friday include several new provisions. Among them is wording that would prohibit advertising vehicles with lower levels of automation – such as Tesla Motors’ Autopilot, which on divided highways can keep a car in its lane, brake and accelerate on the understanding that a person is paying attention all the time – from being advertised as “autonomous” or “self-driving”.
The company that stands to gain the most from the state’s embrace of cars without a wheel or pedals is Alphabet, where the Google self-driving car project envisions cars that allow no human control other than a start and emergency stop button.
The self-driving car world is still in major flux as regulators and automotive and tech companies figure out what can work, as they wrestle with the idea of an emotionless machine and software replacing the human element. As far as the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) is concerned, they’ve already proclaimed that robots CAN drive.
(Source: The Guardian)