California DMV to regulate driverless cars

Posted by Shane McGlaun

Fully autonomous vehicles are hitting the streets around the United States. In fact, several major automotive and technology firms are testing self-driving cars already.

Google is probably the most recognizable industry heavyweight currently testing autonomous vehicles, as Mountain View operates an entire fleet of cars capabale of navigating themselves - without driver input - from point A to point B.

One of the biggest issues facing autonomous vehicles? How state and local governments will ultimately regulate self-driving cars. Indeed, none other than the California DMV is currently investigating regulatory procedures for autonomous vehicles of the future. 

The DMV held a workshop last Friday in Sacramento, California seeking public input on possible regulations to govern driverless cars. Reports indicate that almost 30 people attended the workshop, although no specifics from the workshop have been revealed.

As we've discussed previously on TG Daily, autonomous vehicles are seen as particularly important for the nation's aging and elderly population who have a difficult time driving themselves due to various health conditions or poor vision.

"Seniors would kill for these vehicles," said Tom Sawyer, 73. "I would be more than happy to trade my slower reflexes and declining peripheral and nighttime vision for an automated chauffeur whose mind doesn't wander."

However, some safety advocates are concerned about autonomous vehicles on the nation's highways.

"I have some trepidation," said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability. "There's an overriding need to go forward with this technology to deal with driver errors, which are so prevalent."

Officials say that once regulations are outlined and in place, autonomous vehicles could come to drivers by the end of the decade. So far, Google has racked up about 400,000 miles on its autonomous vehicle fleet with only one reported accident, which actually occurred when a human was driving. 

Among the issues that have to be ironed out before autonomous vehicles can take to the roads in force is who would be responsible in an accident  (the manufacturer or the driver) and exactly how much insurance coverage would be required for autonomous vehicles.