California Issues Recommendations for Driverless Cars

Google Self Driving Car - H 2015
Courtesy of Google

Google Self Driving Car - H 2015

Department of Motor Vehicles regulations would require a licensed driver to be behind the wheel and prepared to take control.

The California Dept. of Motor Vehicles issued recommendations for regulating driverless cars Wednesday, and if adopted would require a licensed driver to be at the wheel of an autonomous car.

"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," a draft of the recommendations stated.

The regulations are meant to provide the groundwork for laws that would help promote the development of autonomous vehicles in California and transition potential manufacturers such as Google, whose self-driving car is undergoing testing on public streets in the state, from testing to selling the cars to the public.

Manufacturers would be approved for a three-year deployment permit that would allow them "to evaluate the safety and real-world performance of autonomous vehicles" and influence subsequent regulations, the DMV said. 

The recommendations come as semi-autonomous features such as adaptive cruise control and emergency braking are increasingly common in new cars and manufacturers are seriously embracing the technology.

Volvo plans to have 100 fully autonomous cars on the road in Sweden by 2017 as part of a pilot program, and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk recently posted on his Twitter page that engineers applying for positions on Tesla's Autopilot autonomous driving system would report directly to Musk, adding, "This is a super high priority."