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Peugeot, Citroën to test autonomous cars with 'non-expert' drivers

Groupe PSA is the first automaker to gain the right to test in this way on French public roads.

When autonomous cars are tested on public roads, they usually have a professional driver of sorts behind the wheel, ready to take over. Groupe PSA's next test will be a bit different.

The French automaker group that includes both Peugeot and Citroën has just been given the authorization to commence autonomous driving tests on French public roads with "non-expert" drivers behind the wheel. It's unclear if that means any ol' Tom, Dick and Harry, or if there are limitations.

Based on what we know from this picture, PSA's autonomous cars will be... French.

Groupe PSA

Groupe PSA is the first automaker to gain this ability. It will commence testing in March, and the group has access to some 1,200 miles of French highways. With non-professional drivers behind the wheel, PSA will be able to gain insight into how the public views and approaches self-driving cars in a traditional environment.

This is far from PSA's first foray into self-driving cars, though. Since July 2015, the group's autonomous test vehicles have covered nearly 75,000 miles of European highways -- with professional drivers behind the wheel, of course.

PSA has its sights set on 2020. According to the group, that's the date when some of its vehicles will feature fully autonomous driving capabilities. Drivers will still be able to assume manual control of the cars, though.

Testing of this kind is still rare in any corner of the world. Certain companies, like Uber and Ford, test their autonomous cars with professionals behind the wheel at all times. Volvo is one of a very small number of automakers that's made plans to put regular ol' citizens behind the wheel.