Driverless testing approved in California

California regulators have this week approved testing of autonomous vehicles without a driver behind the wheel.

Fifty companies already have permits to test on public roads and highways in California. This ruling means the vehicles will no longer need to have drivers inside during tests, but driverless cars being tested on public roads must have a remote operator monitoring at all times, ready to take over as needed. The remote operator must also be able to communicate with police as well as any passengers in the event of an accident.

Law enforcement must provide permission to test on local roads and be provided with routes the cars will take.

Manufacturers can apply for permits allowing driverless testing when the regulations go into effect April 2.

The rules, written by California’s Department of Motor Vehicles and approved by the state’s Office of Administrative Law, also create the framework under which consumers can eventually buy driverless cars.

The California regulations do not include testing and deployment of autonomous trucks and other commercial vehicles.