California Opens the Road to Fully Driverless Cars; Federal Policymaking Slowly Rolls Forward

On February 26, 2018, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced new regulations allowing fully driverless cars to be tested on California roads as of April 2, 2018. The announcement culminates a multi-year process undertaken by DMV.

The new regulations mark a significant change. Although DMV has already issued permits to 50 manufacturers and technology companies allowing for autonomous vehicle (AV) testing on California roads under its existing regulations, the new regulations are among the first in the nation allowing for AV testing without a human driver present in the vehicle. They represent a critical next step in the deployment of fully driverless vehicles to the public. In fact, the new regulations anticipate deployment once testing has been successfully completed. They not only provide for permits to allow testing of AVs without a human driver (at §227.38), but also provide for permits to allow post-testing deployment of AVs (at §228.06).

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