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Are California freeways ready for driverless cars with no one behind the wheel?

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is continuing with its push to have fully autonomous vehicles on the road in the Golden State as early as June of next year, releasing a revised set of regulations for driverless car operation in the state on Wednesday. The regulations, originally proposed in March, will be up for a 15 day public comment period before being submitted to the state government.

California’s current rules require a licensed driver to be in the driver’s seat while autonomous vehicles are being tested, a rule that some say is too stringent. The new regulations would relax that rule, but require any driverless car manufacturers to prove they’re meeting federal benchmarks and that any files that federal regulators get on testing also go to the DMV. Companies testing driverless cars would have to notify the local government anywhere they plan to test. The new regulations do not allow for large driverless trucks because the DMV says vehicles over 10,000 lbs. will need their own set of regulations.

What’s your take on the new regulations? Do they go far enough? Do they go too far? Based on these regulations and what we know about advances in autonomous vehicle tech, how safe do you think you’d feel sharing the road with a car that doesn’t have anyone at the wheel?

With guest host Libby Denkmann.  


Ashley Z. Hand, co-founder of CityFi, a company that focuses on the integration of technology in the urban environment; formerly served as the transportation technology strategist for the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation, and developed public policy for shared mobility, automated vehicles and other technologies; she tweets @azhandkc

John M. Simpson, director of the Privacy Project at Consumer Watchdog,  a consumer advocacy organization based in Santa Monica

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