California will let autonomous cars without steering wheels or humans begin testing

Self-driving cars have been testing on open road for quite some time now, albeit every one has a human backup driver inside that can take control the moment the need arises. In California, arguably the home of autonomous driving tech, that could soon change. The state's Governor Jerry Brown approved a bill late last week that allows limited testing for autonomous vehicles with backup drivers or manual controls of any kind.

Before you start panicking about getting stuck by a robot car while roaming California's streets, know that the bill permits the testing only under very specific conditions. First of all, only a pilot project from the Contra Costa Transportation Authority has been approved, and second, the vehicles can only be used at a business park in San Ramon and at GoMentum Station, the former Concord Naval Weapons Station.

The latter location is where companies like Honda and Otto Motors have been testing their self-driving tech, and the CCTA has said that both Google and Apple have expressed interest in doing the same.

The details of the testing include that controls such as a steering wheel and pedals are not required on vehicles, but they can't exceed speeds of 35mph, and two-way communication must be present between the cars and those testing them.

It seems like it will still be some time before we see truly unmanned autonomous cars widely tested on public roads in the way Google's co-piloted vehicles are used now, but this new regulation should prove helpful to car companies ready to put their tech to the test.

SOURCE Reuters, California Legislative Information