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Calif. May Put Passengers in Autonomous Cars

April 11, 2018

Photo of a Uber self-driving car courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Photo of a Uber self-driving car courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

California state regulators recently proposed a pilot program that would allow passengers to ride in driverless vehicles—even without a safety driver present—according to The Mercury News.

The state’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) submitted a proposal that calls for the establishment of two pilot test programs for autonomous vehicle passenger service by authorized transportation carriers or companies. One program would authorize testing with a driver, the other, without a driver.

Essentially, the driverless pilot program would enable authorized carriers to shuttle passengers as long as the service complies with all rules that govern the remote operations of a vehicle as established by California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), reports The Mercury News.

In addition, the passenger service must be offered free of charge during pilot testing and the service company must comply with all PUC and DMV permits.

The proposal comes on the heels of the first pedestrian fatality caused by an autonomous vehicle, when a self-driving Uber car struck and killed a woman in Tempe, Arizona on March 19. 

Moreover, a recent poll conducted by SurveyUSA indicates that Californians remain skeptical about safety issues and autonomous vehicles.

Nearly a third of Californians said they felt “very unsafe” getting into an autonomous car, compared to 8% who said they felt “very safe,” according to an ABC Eyewitness news report regarding the poll.

Moreover, 58% of Californians surveyed said that self-driving cars piloted by computers—and without a human driver—should not be allowed on the streets of their neighborhood. Seniors and residents from rural areas were particularly emphatic about keeping autonomous vehicles out of their communities, reports ABC.

SurveyUSA interviewed 1,100 state of California adults from March 22-25—less than one week after the fatal Uber incident.

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