Los Angeles – California regulators announced on Wednesday preliminary regulations for autonomous-driving cars.

These will be the first regulations dealing with self-driving technology and they are necessary step to determinate if the technology is safe before any of the vehicles can be sold to consumers. Even though autonomous vehicles are still far from being offered for sale California regulators are taking the one step closer to help the technology go past the testing phase.

Google self-driving car prototype, already tested on the streets. Photo: Google.
Google self-driving car prototype, already tested on the streets. Photo: Google.

The proposed rules lay out a variety of requirements for manufacturers that want to offer autonomous driving to the public. Among other safety-related requirements, the cars must have a steering wheel.

Also, cars will have to be able to detect cyberattacks or unauthorized intrusions and include an override system that gives the human operator control of the vehicle if such an attack occurred.

As for the driver, first of all the customer must get some sort of training on how the technology works to get an additional autonomous vehicle operator certificate issued by the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) apart from the regular driving license. the regulations hold motorists responsible for obeying traffic laws, regardless of whether they are behind the wheel or not. They also required a licensed driver ready to take control over the vehicle if the machine fails.

The reactions to the brand new regulations have been mixed. Consumer Watchdog, a consumer advocacy group based in Los Angeles said it is generally happy with the proposed rules.

“We’ve long been advocates of the notion that if you are to have a so-called self-driving car, you’ll need a steering wheel and pedals and licensed driver capable of taking over if something goes wrong,” John Simpson, an advocate at the organization said.

The group has been petitioning the DMV to take a methodical approach to the regulations and avoid pressure from car makers and claimed they were very happy the DMV had taken that approach.

But on the other hand google, one of the company that along with BMW, Bosch, Cruise Automation, Delphi Automotive, Ford, Google, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Tesla Motors, and Volkswagen has been developing autonomous technology, has expressed grave disappointment with the regulations as it planned to get cars without a steering wheel or pedals to consumers.

However, Google said it is relief with the fact that the California DMV said the regulations can be changed down the line. The regulations are in draft form and they will evolve as we get input. Google hopes to influence the DMV with its arguments.

Over 100 autonomous driving prototypes are already on the streets in California. About three-quarters of them are owned by Google X and tested daily on trips around the company’s Mountain View headquarters. Many of the Google cars are capable of operating completely driverless for most of each journey but employees are still capable or taking over if there is any problem.

Source: The Wall Street Journal