FRANCISCO — California is not quite ready to let self-driving cars hit
the road on their own.
The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles on Wednesday issued a draft of
potential regulations for putting regular people behind the wheel of
autonomous vehicles. The draft is a big step toward legal recognition of
self-driving technology, but it comes with significant requirements.
The manufacturers of self-driving cars would have to subject their
vehicles to a third-party safety test. And they would apply for
three-year permits that would allow them to lease but not sell
self-driving cars to the public.
Manufacturers would also have to regularly report accidents, come up
with security measures to prevent hackers from taking over cars, and
tell passengers what kind of data, beyond whatever information is needed
to safely run the car, the companies are collecting about them.
Self-driving cars are already a common sight around California,
particularly in Mountain View, where Google is based and often tests the
vehicles. But outside of press events and other private showings,
regular people have yet to operate them.
Google’s self-driving-car project is focused on producing a fully
autonomous car, and its prototype does not have pedals or a steering
wheel, though Google does add a steering wheel and other controls when
it tests the vehicles on public roads.
While the draft released Wednesday does not directly address vehicles
like the Google prototype, the D.M.V. said it believed that
“manufacturers need to obtain more experience in testing driverless
vehicles on public roads prior to making this technology available to
the general public.”
“The department will address the unique safety, performance and
equipment requirements associated with fully autonomous vehicles without
the presence of a driver in subsequent regulatory packages,” the draft
Google’s autonomous vehicle effort is part of the X division of
Alphabet, a holding company formed in August to separate Google’s search
and advertising businesses from more speculative projects.
But self-driving cars are likely to be spun off into their own division
soon. In September, Alphabet hired John Krafcik, an auto industry
veteran, to be chief executive of the division, at which point the
company said the self-driving-car unit, while not yet a stand-alone
company, was “a good candidate to become one at some point in the
Astro Teller, head of the X division, has on several occasions said that
the company’s tests show humans to be a poor fallback, because once they
learn to trust self-driving technology they ignore the road and
therefore are not well equipped to take over in the event of an
Not to mention that the big pitch behind autonomous driving technology
is to help people who cannot or do not want to drive because they are
disabled, drunk or just too busy doing other things.
“Safety is our highest priority and primary motivator as we do this,”
said Courtney Hohne, a Google spokeswoman, in an emailed statement.
“We’re gravely disappointed that California is already writing a ceiling
on the potential for fully self-driving cars to help all of us who live
A number of other Bay Area companies are investing in self-driving-car
technology, including the electric-car company Tesla Motors and the
ride-hailing service Uber Technologies. Google is one of 11 companies —
along with Tesla, Honda Motor, BMW and Ford Motor — with a permit to
test the vehicles on California roads.
他共11家如Tesla, Honda Motor, BMW 和Ford Motor
The D.M.V.’s draft is basically a starting point for two workshops — one
in Sacramento, another in Los Angeles — where regulators and
manufacturers will talk about rules for allowing ordinary people to
operate self-driving cars.
Three years ago, California enacted a law that required the D.M.V. to
adopt new vehicle, performance and safety regulations for putting
autonomous cars on public roads. The first milestone was last September,
when the D.M.V. introduced a series of guidelines that allowed companies
like Google and others to start testing self-driving cars on California