Sacramento – California’s Department of Motor Vehicles is working to determinate how to keep the public safe as the self-driving technology developed but companies developing the technology claim that the current course will delay the distribution of vehicles that promise huge safety benefits.

Last month, the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles announced preliminary regulations for autonomous-driving cars which is the first step to determinate if the technology is safe before selling the vehicles to the general consumer, but the companies that has been developing autonomous technology, has expressed grave disappointment with the regulations.

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

Now, DMV officials in Sacramento heard on Thursday at a workshop different suggestions from advocates and skeptics of possible changes to the draft of precedent-setting regulations that will govern how Californians can get the cars once companies move beyond their current testing of prototypes.

Most of the advocates who spoke on favor of the technology represented the blind community, claiming the self-driving cars would change their lives. Bryan Bashin, the 60-year executive director of LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco, said would be one of the biggest advances for the blind since talking computers or even Braille. Jessie Lorenz, who is blind and relies on public transit to get her 4-year-old daughter to preschool asked regulators not to leave her family out in the waiting room.

Brian Soublet, DMV attorney said the agency appreciates the potential benefits for disabled people but that they have to think about everybody’s safety. That is why the current DMV regulations say self-driving cars must have a steering wheel and a licensed driver ready to take control in case onboard computers or sensors fail.

It is not sure yet if the suggestion workshop will work or not, but if California’s final regulations are close to the current draft, Google will have to distribute cars without steering wheels elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Google is preparing to expand its self-driving car project to four more U.S. cities, probably located in states with looser rules and places with more variable weather conditions. Nevada is the most probable option as the state became the first to pass legislation to let companies operate autonomous vehicles on public roads in 2011.

Source: ABC News