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California DMV considering how to regulate driverless vehicles

California DMV officials have begun mulling over the idea of how to regulate autonomous or self-driving vehicles.
March 11, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
It may not be long before the vehicles out on the roads will be driving themselves.

Though the technology is still being tested, major automakers are working on autonomous vehicles or self-driving cars. But with the new technology, comes complex questions of how to regulate the vehicles.

"Should we issue a new license for someone to actually operate these vehicles?" asked Bernard Soriano, a deputy director at the DMV. "And if so, what kind of test do we need to give a driver of a self-driving car?"

Some California drivers remain skeptical.

"I already feel that they're way to lax on, you know, letting certain people drive and that kind of stuff, and I don't know how they would regulate that," said Sonia Powazek.

On Tuesday, the DMV held a public hearing to solicit ideas on how to integrate driverless cars onto public roads.

Concerns ranged from data privacy and security since they're essentially a computer on wheels. Who would be at fault if a robotic car crashes? Should a young child or a blind person be allowed to ride alone?

"It makes me really concerned because my dad has a seeing problem and he can't drive a car himself, that'd be really crazy," said Marcela Jackson.

Driverless cars could be commercially available by decades end, but the state doesn't want to wait. Under a California law passed in 2012, the DMV must decide by the end of this year how to integrate the cars onto public roads.

With the federal government apparently years away from developing regulations, California's ruling could become the national standard.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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