Looks like states are finally jumping on the autonomous-driving bandwagon, but this time it has a little “oomph” behind it. Having Nevada pass a bill specifically to allow and regulate automated driving was great, but this time it’s California that gave it the green light. California’s driving and automotive laws have always had a big influence on federal laws – except lane splitting, thank goodness – so chances are more states will follow and the NHTSA will eventually jump on board.
The thing to remember here is that this bill was not to allow autonomous cars to drive on California roads, as California has no laws barring self-driving cars. This law is to govern the production and testing of these cars in hopes of giving manufacturers a clear set of rules regarding these cars, which may press more automakers into this realm.
The first thing that California cleared up is defining an autonomous vehicle. This is any vehicle that can drive without any human intervention, so this eliminates Cadillac’s self-driving car for now and leaves only the Google car (seen in the above video). It also specifies that it is legal to manufacture your own autonomous car and drive it on California highways, which is an interesting topic of debate.
The bill goes on to state that the car must have a licensed driver in the driver’s seat and that driver must be designated by the car’s builder as a legal driver for said vehicle. The only exception to this rule is on a closed course. The manufacturer must also have an insurance policy or bond in the amount of $5 million prior to testing the vehicle. From there the bill goes on to define what safety issues the manufacturer, car, and driver must comply with.
Keep in mind that this is only the first step for this bill, as it must pass the State Assembly next. Given the bill passed 37 – 0, we doubt it will be held up.
Click past the jump to read the bill. Yes, it is in regular English, not “politicianese.”