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California’s Department of Motor Vehicles passed regulations today that would allow driverless cars to operate on roads as early as April.
The regulations require a remote human operator – who could be miles away – to monitor the vehicle as a fallback. Still, this is the first time companies will be able to operate autonomous vehicles in California without a safety driver behind the wheel.
Players like Alphabet’s Waymo, General Motors and Uber have been testing self-driving cars with humans monitoring from the driver seat, with hopes that they’ll eventually operate a fleet of autonomous vehicles for profit.
GM, interestingly, has petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to allow the company to deploy a fleet of vehicles without steering wheels or pedals by 2019.
Of course, Tesla is also in the race to full autonomy with its Autopilot system.
If these companies have a remote monitoring system in place, it’s possible we could see driverless cars on public roads in a matter of months.
“It will be interesting to see which manufacturer is the first,” DMV spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez told Reuters.