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California sets regulations for testing driverless cars

If you’re ever driving on the streets of California, you may soon be sharing the roads with some very “hands off” drivers.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has released a set of rules and regulations for the driverless cars that have recently been developed by Google and other companies, explaining how they can be tested and who can have licenses to drive them.  Or at least who can ride along in the driver’s seat.

CNET noted that until now, Google had been running pilot programs of their autonomous cars in somewhat of a “gray area,” since there had been no precedents set for this type of vehicle.

In a 14 page report, the DMV maintained that the testing rules apply to manufacturers of these cars, as well as companies that transform cars with autonomous technology (i.e. Google).  Manufacturers will have to provide the state with each driverless car’s license plate number, vehicle identification code and insurance policy in order to get a permit for testing.

The rules also outlined how to operate these vehicles, noting that a person must be behind the wheel at all times, so that he or she can take control in case something goes wrong.  In order to be a driverless car “driver,” individuals must be employed by one of these cars’ manufacturers and pass a special driving test, demonstrating their knowledge of the technology.

Of the car manufacturers interested in this concept, Audi has been the most aggressive in developing autonomous technology for their vehicles.  Nissan and Tesla have also announced that they will be developing self-driving technology for future use.

The new testing regulations will take effect in September of this year, and the DMV is reportedly developing rules for public use of driverless cars that will be ready by January 2015.  So basically, California is getting one step closer to making Minority Report a reality.