California: Self-Driving Cars Can't Be on Roads Without Drivers

California: Self-Driving Cars Can't Be on Roads Without Drivers
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This story originally appeared on Reuters

California, the largest car market in the United States, issued draft rules on Wednesday for self-driving cars, requiring a licensed driver inside the vehicle in case of failure in a plan that stresses safety.

The regulations by the Department of Motor Vehicles are intended to help nurture the state's nascent but fast-growing autonomous vehicle technology industry while allowing traditional car companies and new entrants like Alphabet Inc. and Apple Inc. to safely deploy their self-driving cars already in development.

The rules, which will face a period of public comment before being finalized, set out a path to take the industry from the current stage of vehicle testing to actually rolling them out to consumers.

California has been at the forefront of the fast-growing autonomous vehicle industry, fueled by technology companies in Silicon Valley, and is one of a handful of states to have passed regulations enabling self-driving car testing on public roads.

Currently, 11 companies have permits to drive autonomous vehicles on public roads in the state, provided there is a licensed driver in the car, with Ford being the most-recent entrant.

The proposed regulations require certification and third-party testing for carmakers, as well as regular reports back to the DMV for a period of three years. Data from that testing will be used to inform future regulation, the DMV said.

Manufacturers are also required to disclose the data they collect, other than from safety systems, and obtain approval to collect it. Concerns that self-driving cars could be a way for major data collectors like Google to collect information on consumers have fueled privacy concerns.

Google -- which is operating its self-driving cars on the streets of Palo Alto, Calif., and Austin, Texas, -- and other carmakers and suppliers have said the technology to build self-driving cars should be ready by 2020.

(Editing by Stephen R. Trousdale and Alan Crosby)

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