The California Department of Motor Vehicles issued draft regulations covering self-driving robot cars. The cars will still be required to have a steering wheel, pedals and be occupied by a licensed driver who can take control of the vehicle as driver’s tests for performance, safety and verification. A Google human driver in August took over the Lexus AV when a Tesla S rear-ended it, and he was injured.
“Google may be in overdrive in its rush to develop robot cars, but the DMV has admirably served as traffic cop and proposed reasonable limits to protect public safety,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog Privacy Project director.
The draft regulations include privacy and cybersecurity protections. Manufacturers must disclose to the operator if information is collected, other than the information needed to safely operate the vehicle. Manufacturers will be required to obtain approval to collect additional information. Autonomous vehicles will be equipped with self-diagnostic capabilities that detect and respond to cyber-attacks or other unauthorized intrusions, alert the operator, and allow for an operator override.
The CA DMV draft rules also limit deployment of an approved robot car to three years and will require manufacturers to report monthly on the performance, safety, and usage of autonomous vehicles.
The CA DMV plans to hold two public workshops next year to discuss the draft regulations on Jan. 28 in Sacramento and on Feb. 2 in Los Angeles. After the workshops DMV will propose formal regulations. With public hearings and the required approval process, the regulations probably won’t take affect for at least a year.
Eleven companies have been approved to test robot cars on California’s highways. They are Volkswagen Group of America, Mercedes Benz, Google, Delphi Automotive, Tesla Motors, Bosch, Nissan, Cruise Automation, BMW, Honda and Ford. Ford just announced it would begin testing a self-driving car in California starting in January.