The California Public Utilities Commission, a regulatory body that deals with transportation companies, has indicated that they will allow autonomous car companies to transport passengers without a backup driver – a huge step forward for developers, just as the industry faces scrutiny due safety concerns.
The commission has issued a proposal that means companies such as Alphabet Inc’s Waymo and General Motors Co can give members of the public a ride in a self-driving car without any backup driver present.
The proposal, which is set to be voted on at a meeting next month, would clear the way for autonomous vehicle companies to do more testing and get the public more closely acquainted with driverless cars in a state that has closely regulated the industry.
It also comes at a time when regulators across the country are analysing the autonomous technology in the aftermath of a fatal crash in Arizona where a self-driving Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian.
The proposed California rules require that companies hold an autonomous vehicle testing permit for at least 90 days before picking up passengers.
The service must be free and passengers must be 18 years or older.