California Proposes Regulations On Deployment of Autonomous Cars

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California’s DMV recently released preliminary regulations on self-driving cars—and proposed a ban on cars without a driver on board. The rules stem from a 2012 law ordering the DMV to issue rules on autonomous vehicles. The testing regulations were approved in May 2014. The most recent proposed rules relate to the deployment of autonomous vehicles on public roads. According to the DMV, “the department’s primary focus was on the safety of autonomous vehicles and the public who will share the road with these vehicles.”

Highlights of the proposed rules include:

  • A licensed driver with an “autonomous vehicle operator certificate” issued by the DMV must be in the car and capable of taking control of the car.
  • The motorist would be responsible for compliance with traffic laws, even if they are not at the wheel of the car.
  • The motorist would have to receive training on how to use an autonomous car.
  • The vehicle would have to pass a test by a third party testing organization. The test would “validate the readiness of the autonomous vehicle for deployment.”
  • Manufacturers would be issued a three-year deployment permit. The manufacturer would be required to submit monthly reports and report accidents and safety-related defects.
  • Automakers could only lease, not sell, autonomous cars.
  • Manufacturers would be required to provide a written disclosure of the information to be collected from the autonomous vehicle. The vehicles would be required to alert “the operator to cyber-attacks or unauthorized intrusions.”
  • Commercial vehicles are excluded from deployment.

If implemented, the first item is an obstacle for companies that are testing driverless cars without drivers in the car. It would also impact technologies in development that would allow vehicles to self-park after dropping off the motorists. The DMV is hosting two upcoming workshops to discuss the draft regulations and receive public and industry input on January 28, 2016 and February 2, 2016. The industry will be closely monitoring how these rules develop prior to their release.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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