America’s west coast state has enabled true driverless tests in public, although no companies have begun them yet

The Californian government is now legally allowing the testing of autonomous cars on the state’s roads without safety drivers behind the wheel.

Following the granting of a permit, active autonomous car technology companies, such as Uber, Lyft and Waymo, as well as car brands such as Ford, can now gather data from public tests with true driverless vehicles.

However, as local paper The Mercury News reported, no company has applied for a permit at this stage. It is thought to be because the new rule comes into place just weeks after the world’s first fatal road accident involving an autonomous car took place.

An Uber Technologies-operated Volvo XC90 tragically hit and killed a woman when she stepped onto a section of road in Arizona that wasn’t a pedestrian crossing two weeks ago. Uber told The Mercury News that it is currently “head down” focusing on the investigation; it has suspended all driverless technology tests for now.

Toyota: autonomous car levels are causing confusion

It is thought that other companies are also now more hesitant to begin true driverless car tests as a result.

Prior to the incident, California Department for Motor Vehicles director Jean Shiomoto said that allowing autonomous cars to test without a safety driver was “a major step forward for autonomous technology in California”.

The west coast of America state, which is home to some of the world’s most advanced technology companies in its Silicon Valley area, is at the very sharp end of development for driverless cars, first announced its plans to allow fully driverless cars on its roads back in 2016.

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Jaguar deal could encourage Waymo to start autonomous car tests in Britain

The UK Government has announced several programmes to bring Britain into the leading foray for autonomous car development, with £40m for research and development into electric and autonomous cars announced in the 2017 Autumn Budget. But there are currently no plans for British tests to involve cars without safety drivers behind the wheel, highlighting California’s freer testing regulation.

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Join the debate


3 April 2018

Since the human in the UBER incident did not prevent that unfortunate death, we may as well move to the next stage now. We need the data and this is the only way to get it. 3500 people die at the hands of human drivers every day worldwide and nobody takes them off the roads. This is the only way to stop the carnage in the long run. Bad things will still happen on the way to a better future.

3 April 2018

 I think so, in the light of that Death a few weeks ago, letting autonomous testing without a human in car just is a risk, the Car can’t be blamed, it’s only doing what’s programmed into its memory, if it comes upon a situation which hasn’t been foreseen it won’t know what to do, no, another decade me thinks there’s far to much work to be done not just with the Cars, there the infrastructure, and of course it’ll have to debated about within Governments which as we all know can delayed by disagreements and bills and such like, some of us might not be driving by then thank a God!

Peter Cavellini.

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