California Puts Brakes on Self-Driving Car Technology

Fully autonomous vehicles aren’t ready for prime time, as far as California’s Department of Motor Vehicles is concerned.

The agency published draft regulations on Wednesday for how manufacturers can move from testing self-driving car technologies to start making vehicles available to customers.

California, as the state with the most cars on the road, often ends up setting many of the standards for the auto industry. Silicon Valley is where much of the research into autonomous vehicles is taking place, while many automakers have their design shops in the Los Angeles area. For now the DMV isn’t allowing automated cars that don’t have a human driver, even though Google Inc. is building one that’s designed to work without a person behind the wheel.


“Given the potential risks associated with deployment of such a new technology, DMV believes that manufacturers need to obtain more experience in testing driverless vehicles on public roads prior to making this technology available to the general public,” the agency wrote.

Recent vehicle prototypes by Mountain View, California-based Google are designed to move at the push of a button, and have no steering wheels or pedals. Google plans to spin out its self-driving car division into its own company next year, and introduce services in Austin and San Francisco. The proposed DMV regulations may affect plans for San Francisco.