California has announced that it is now allowing companies to operate autonomous vehicles on public roads even without a safety driver on board. This means passenger vehicles, take-out food, and grocery deliveries are about to go fully robotic.
According to a press release put out by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the state will now allow autonomous motor vehicles weighing less than 10,001 pounds to operate on public roads – with a few criteria.
Those requirements include:
- The vehicles must be tested in a controlled environment that simulates the environment where they will operate.
- Test drivers must be certified and have a clean driving record.
- If the vehicle does not have an on-board safety operator, the vehicle must have a communication link with a remote operator.
- In the event of an accident, the company must submit a collision report to the DMV within 10 days.
Allowing for a remote operator instead of a driver means that companies which are hoping to make fully autonomous local parcel deliveries or taxi services available will be able to test and begin offering their services to the general public as soon as they are able.
The new permits will not be available for vehicles over 10,000 pounds, so only Class 1 and 2 vehicles will qualify.