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Self-Driving Cars are Coming to California

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On February 26, California gave permission for self-driving cars to begin testing on public roads. As of April 2, The Golden State will begin accepting applications for permits to release self-driving cars on public roads without a human driver at the wheel.

What does this exciting news mean for vehicles? Without a human operator inside, cars can see some revolutionary changes coming. For example, rearview mirrors, gas and brake pedals, and even steering wheels may no longer be necessary for future self-driving cars.

This new step in technology and transportation does not, however, come without stipulations. California is currently carefully regulating permit applicants, especially after the recent fatal crashes by a self-driving Uber car in Arizona and a Tesla car operating in semi-autonomous Autopilot mode in California.

On April 2, the California Department of Motor Vehicles issued a list of safety requirements that the permit applicants must meet, which include requiring a remote operator to be able to control the vehicle, having the proper security to resist cyber attacks, and coming with two-way communications equipment. The vehicle must also meet federal motor vehicle standards and show results from tests that simulate real-world driving.

In addition to these rules, the vehicle must not be able to be operated autonomously outside of certain designated areas and conditions.

The full text of the regulations can be found here. According to the California DMV, it can immediately suspend or revoke permits over practices it finds unsafe or harmful.

With this exciting news, you would expect applications for permits to be through the roof on April 2, right?

Not so fast: A spokesperson from the California Department of Motor Vehicles told Gizmodo that only one permit has been requested from the DMV and that the office has yet to review the application.

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Krista Doyle