California, the largest car market in the U.S. and a hub of autonomous technology development, has proposed plans to allow testing of self-driving cars on public roads without human back-up drivers by the end of the year.
The Californian Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is seeking public comment on regulations for driverless testing and the public use of vehicles that will no longer require manual controls such as pedals and steering wheels.
“Since the adoption of the current testing regulations, the capabilities of autonomous technology has proceeded to the point where manufacturers have developed systems that are capable of operating without the presence of a driver inside the vehicle,” the department said in their initial statement.
So far, the state has granted 27 companies licences to test driverless vehicles on public roads, including large businesses such as Tesla, BMW and Uber, and small start-ups such as Zoox and AutoX.
Companies who wish to test AVs without a steering wheel and back-up driver must apply for an exemption from the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration if they do not meet current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
Numerous car makers have expressed plans to deploy AVs on U.S roads by 2020.
The Californian DMV has opened the regulations to comments from the public and will hold a hearing on April 25.