Self-driving vehicles without any human backups could be on California roads as soon as April

Self-driving vehicles without any backup driver in them could be allowed on California roads as soon as April under California Department of Motor Vehicles rules up for approval Monday — even sooner than the previously anticipated June launch.

(c) Reuters

The new rules have been with the Office of Administrative Law for review since January and are expected to be approved Monday.  If the regulations are approved, the DMV could issue a public notice soon after and start approving applications 30 days later. That means the state could issue permits as soon as April 2 for fully driverless vehicles. A remote operator would be required to be able to take over if anything goes wrong.

The changes would open up the next level in the already highly-competitive race to bring fully autonomous vehicles to the masses. Since Sept. 2014, California has required approved drivers be present in autonomous vehicles in case they need to take control. There are currently 50 companies with permits to test self-driving vehicles on California roads with a driver present, with big names like General Motors-owned Cruise and Google’s Waymo, along with ride-hailing companies Lyft and Uber Technologies.