Nearly every state allows the testing of some autonomous vehicles on their road provided these vehicles are equipped with human controls that can easily take over when the car begins to perform in a manner that’s not in accordance with the laws and rules of the road. This allows companies to collect data and know how often the human driver has to take over, but if the vision of most companies for autonomous driving is to offer vehicles that don’t need human controls to allow for the corrections needed, they have to be able to test their vehicles without human drivers.
Until now no state has allowed these driverless cars, but as with most progressive movements in technology, California will once again lead the way toward making sure these vehicles can come to fruition. As the first state to allow companies to test their driverless vehicles in public areas, California will limit the region in which these vehicles can be tested, but allowing the testing is a huge step in the progression forward for autonomous driving. As Governor Jerry Brown signs this action into law let’s take a look at the area and rules that accompany the first wave of fully autonomous vehicles that don’t have human override controls.
The area that companies can use for driving and testing their driverless vehicles will include the former Concord Naval Weapons Station and a business part in San Ramon. there are also some public roads in the approved areas that can be used and these cars can then give the feedback needed to the company regarding the experience without driver over ride controls. In addition to these limited areas, these cars are required to travel at speeds lower than 35 mph and all accidents must be reported within ten days.
This will open the door for the next wave of autonomous technology to be discovered and researched. Currently Honda and Otto are using these testing facilities with Apple and Google expected to join the fray and bring in a few more autonomous vehicles on these roads to gather data and see how these cars will perform. Some companies will continue to keep to the idea of gathering date with human drivers at the wheel, such as Tesla and its Autopilot system, but other companies are more than willing to bring vehicles to this testing facility to make use of no driver situations.
It won’t be surprising if Ford either has their own testing facility or makes use of this area soon, considering their bold statement to have cars on the road within five years that don’t have steering wheels or pedals, but since they are fairly new to the autonomous race, Ford might not be ready to use this testing area. If all goes well in California, it won’t be too surprising if other states begin to allow this type of testing as well, especially those states that have some wide open spaces and areas that have been left unused for years.