New regulations proposed by California’s Department of Motor Vehicles could severely impact the rollout of self-driving vehicles within the state.
The proposal, which comes on the heels of news that Google is intending to launch a driverless car ridesharing service, would entirely ban autonomous vehicles that have no human passengers on board. The proposed regulations would also require the vehicles to be built with a steering wheel and pedals in order to be driven on California’s public roadways.
In addition, the regulations would call for all vehicles to be tested by a third party organization in order to verify “the autonomous vehicle’s ability to perform key driving maneuvers that are typically encountered in real-world driving conditions”–even though no such organizations exists at present.
For companies like Google, as well as many automakers such as BMW, Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Tesla and Volkswagen, the passing of these regulations into law would mean a complete halt on their plans to introduce autonomous vehicle cab services within California.
In a statement to Automotive News, Google spokesman Johnny Luu has said that these proposed regulations would impede the potential of a technology that can reduce collision instances and improve mobility for those who cannot drive.
“Safety is our highest priority and primary motivator as we do this. We’re gravely disappointed that California is already writing a ceiling on the potential for fully self-driving cars to help all of us who live here.”
Even though it may be quite some time before the proposed regulations come into effect, if they are in fact passed, the threat of such restrictions may spur self-driving car companies to go elsewhere for testing and deployment of their technologies.