California has passed a bill allowing the testing of driverless cars on public roads in select locations.
The bill, which was approved at the end of September, permits companies to test autonomous cars without a driver and minus a steering wheel, brake pedal and accelerator pedal.
State authorities have included a series of conditions, the most notable being that the testing must take place “only at a privately owned business park designated by the authority, inclusive of public roads within the designated business park” and at speeds below 35mph only.
The car must have insurance – or equivalent - of at least $5million (£3.9m), as well as having been previously tested under controlled conditions prior to driving on permitted roads.
The bill also dictates that those running autonomous cars on the scheme must report any occasion upon which the autonomous system is deactivated, although in cars without a steering wheel or pedals, it is unclear what would happen to the car in the event of this.
California’s bill is believed to be the first of its type globally. Other recently announced autonomous car testing schemes have not included the legal allowance of there being no driver behind the wheel and no driver inputs, either by pedals or a steering wheel.