Google, Ford, Volkswagen And Others Challenge California’s Proposed Rules On Driverless Car Testing

google driverless car toyota prius by Steve Jurvetson on Wikimedia

The search giant and car makers objected to potential regulatory roadblocks the autonomous driving development

Google and car makers have objected to the state of California’s proposal to set mandatory rules for the testing of driverless cars, claiming such rules could curtail the development of autonomous vehicles.

Reuters reported that the search giant was joined by automotive firms, including Honda, Volkswagen, Ford and General Motors, to raise a litany of concerns in a hearing about the proposed rules in Sacramento, California.

The companies opposed the need to make the compliance with testing guidelines issued by federal regulators last month a mandatory requirement rather than voluntary.

Bumpy road to autonomous driving

google lexus driverless carGoogle and it peers in the automotive world challenged California’s officials on why there should be a requirement to have a new autonomous vehicle data recorder and questioned the type of data they would be required to collect.

They also objected to a proposal forcing car makers to have a year’s worth of autonomous driving testing data before they could apply for an operating permit. In effect, such a move would force a 12-month delay between autonomous vehicle testing and deployment on public roads.

A challenge was also levied at one of the conditions that the companies would have to hand over autonomous driving data within 24 hours should the police request it without seeking subpoena or warrant.

There was a flipside to the proposals that allow for driverless cars to be used without having a person behind the wheel; current regulations require a driver in place even if the system has been proved to be capable of autonomous operation without any human interference.

While David Strickland, head of the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, which comprises of Google and various car makers, noted that the proposed rules could “could greatly delay the benefits that self-driving vehicles can bring to safety and mobility for individuals”, California is welcoming any concrete suggestions that would improve upon the proposed rules.

So it can be expected that Google and others will have scope to put forward their ideas for the regulation of driverless car testing, rather than be left to just object to proposals.

It would appear that Tesla, a company pushing ahead with its autonomous driving plans, was absent from the hearing. This is notable given Tesla is pulling no punches with its ambitions to bring self-driving cars to the public roads, having announced all of its new cars will have autonomous driving hardware built into them as standard.

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