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California proposes policies to allow testing self-driving vehicles without humans

California, the largest U.S. vehicle market, plans to permit testing on public roads of self-driving automobiles without human drivers by the end of the year, state authorities stated Friday.

The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles is looking for public comment regarding proposed policies for driverless testing and public use of autonomous vehicles that will not be needed to have conventional manual controls like steering wheels and pedals.

Existing guidelines require such automobiles to have those controls, in addition to a backup driver.

The suggested change gives a course to the ultimate sale and deployment of self-driving vehicles in California, state transport secretary Brian Kelly stated.

The state has licensed 27 companies to test driverless cars on public roads, including vehicle manufacturers from BMW to Tesla; suppliers like Delphi Automotive Plc and Nvidia Corp; technology companies like Waymo and Baidu Inc; and a long list of self-driving start-ups consisting of Zoox, Drive.ai, AutoX and PlusAI. Also certified are China-funded electrical car start-ups NextEV and Faraday Future.

Last week, California approved a testing permit to Uber.

The proposed policies allow makers to certify that their driverless test vehicles can run without traditional controls. The cars must fulfill federal safety standards or have an exemption from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), DMV Deputy Director Brian Soublet stated.

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