In what some see as a major step in the evolution of autonomous vehicles, Arizona and then California approved testing AVs on public roads with no driver behind the wheel. In Arizona, the approval was specifically for Waymo, Google’s AV spinoff. In California, automakers could apply for permits starting March 2, and those approved will be able to test AVs starting April 2.
A remote operator will still be required to monitor the vehicle at all times, ready to take over if necessary. The remote operator must be able to contact police and any passengers in case of an accident. Automakers will have to provide the local DMV with a plan for contacting local law enforcement.
But some consumer groups, such as Consumer Watchdog, say the safeguards are inadequate. “It will be just like playing a video game, except lives will be at stake,” said John M. Simpson, the group’s privacy and technology project director.Download Bulletin PDF