California wants to give self-driving cars more leeway in public

The Golden State continues its push to remain at the forefront of autonomous-vehicle legislation with a slew of new rules and laws.

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Steering wheels? Who needs 'em?

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Even with a national framework for self-driving cars coming into effect in the US, many rules regarding licensing and testing are still left to the individual states. California has always been at the head of this charge, and with some new potential regulations coming up, it's looking to stay that way.

New draft regulations would finally permit autonomous vehicles to operate without a person in the driver's seat, Reuters reports. The regulations also allow automakers to certify their vehicles by showing they conform to a 15-step assessment put forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

These regulations have changed slightly since their inception. Originally, a third party was required to assess autonomous vehicle safety, which is no longer necessary with a federal framework in place. Tech companies also lobbied for the no-driver clause, as some such as Google have already built cars without traditional controls.

The regulations also establish new rules for advertising. Semi-autonomous driving systems, such as Tesla's Autopilot or Mercedes-Benz's Drive Pilot, will be banned from using terms such as "self-driving" or "autonomous." This should help clear up some confusion, which some in the media blame for collisions that happen while drivers are using these technologies.

California Governor Jerry Brown also recently signed into law a bill permitting driverless testing as part of a pilot program by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Both Honda and startup Otto Motors have self-driving cars operating in this pilot. Other companies, including Google, appear interested in using the program's facilities too.

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