3/13/2014

California Prepares Rules for Publicly Owned Driverless Cars

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California's Dept. of Motor Vehicles is expected to reveal tentative rules in June that would govern how to integrate self-driving cars with normal traffic on the state's public roads.

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California's Dept. of Motor Vehicles is expected to reveal tentative rules in June that would govern how to integrate self-driving cars with normal traffic on the state's public roads. Under a 2012 law, the DMV is required to finalize such standards by the end of 2014.

Several states already allow the testing of so-called automatic or autonomous vehicles on public streets. California is trying to set more general rules before 2020, when many carmakers say self-driving cars will become available for purchase by consumers. If the state's standards are successful, they could be adopted nationally, observers say.

In DMV hearings earlier this week. USA Today notes that among the difficult questions to address are vehicle safety, the role of a human backup driver, who is liable if a self-driving car hits something and whether carmakers can tap data about a self-driving car's travels to tailor marketing messages to its occupants.

California law requires that the self-driving cars log their movements in case they are involved in a crash. USA Today says initial hearings centered on privacy concerns about such data logs. Discussion also grappled with questions about ensuring that owners know how to operate their autonomous vehicle.