California DMV Officially Approves Autonomous Cars On Public Roads, With Regulations

Usually, technological advances substantially outpace legislation to manage them, but give a tip ‘o the cap to the California DMV for drawing up regulations for autonomous cars before the vehicles become widespread.

In two separate “packages”, the DMV has rules both for testing autonomous vehicles by manufacturers and deployment for the public operation of vehicles on roads.

A vehicle that has driver assistance or automatic safety features but not the ability to actually drive the vehicle without human control is not considered “autonomous”. Manufacturers must do their own testing and run driver training programs, and drivers must be employees of the manufacturer.

autonomous vehicles

And here’s the bit that a lot of people have been wondering about: insurance. The rules require a manufacturer testing autonomous vehicles to have at least $5 million in coverage. The manufacturer can get that through a typical insurance provider or via a self-issued certificate.

Vehicles must also be fully registered just like any other vehicle, including make/model/year, license plate number, and VIN.

Google and other companies have been testing driverless cars for some time, but the trials are still ongoing, with no consumer products or integrations yet available. But make no mistake, driverless car technology is coming, and soon; now the DMV (in California, anyway) is prepared to handle it from a regulatory standpoint.