Although members of the public still are not completely comfortable with driverless cars, regulators and developers of these machines are looking for a way to make them more mainstream. While the technology is not yet at a point where driverless cars would outnumber traditional vehicles in any way, the pace has been picking up behind the scenes to support more of these vehicles. A leading reason for driverless cars and increased automation inside vehicles has been the fact that car accidents and their associated injuries are leading to lost money and lives all over the country. The vast majority of car accidents are caused by human error today and creators of driverless cars believe automation could be the secret to changing that trend.
Automakers and tech companies have been testing self-driving vehicle prototypes across freeways and neighborhoods for the last several years. However, regulators at the national level have required that those vehicles have pedals, steering wheels and human back up drivers who would be able to take over in the event of an emergency. However, recently California’s Department of Motor Vehicles proposed regulations that would pave the way for driverless cars. These vehicles could begin the road testing process as early as the end of 2017 and a select number of may become available to consumers as early as 2018, if the federal government move forward with allowing permission.
Currently, federal automobile standards mandate steering wheels, although the Department of Transportation has encouraged self-driving technology and may look favorably on pilot projects like those in California. With California size as the most popular state in the country’s car market, it could have a significant impact on driverless cars around the country as well. The proposed regulations are an extremely detailed regulatory framework and regulators hope to put them in place by the end of December.