Self-driving vehicles such as Google car and the much-rumored Apple car must have a licensed driver at the helm all the times during testing in California. On Wednesday, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issued draft rules that require a human backup during testing in case of failure. The regulations are now subject to a period of public commentary before being finalized.
California a hotbed of autonomous driving technology
The rules are intended to set out a clear direction for testing autonomous driving technology. California is the largest automobile market in the United States. Technology companies in Silicon Valley such as Google, Apple, and Tesla have made the state a hotbed of autonomous driving technology. Currently, 11 companies have been granted permits to test self-driving vehicles on public roads in the state, and all of them are required to have a licensed driver in the car.
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Companies are also required to have pass certifications, and submit regular reports to the DMV for three years. They will also have to obtain approval to collect data, other than from safety systems. The DMV will use this data in coming up with future regulations. Some have argued that companies like Google may use self-driving cars to collect data on consumers, fueling privacy concerns.
Can Apple car remain under the wraps until launch?
The Cupertino-based iPhone maker has been working on a self-driving electric car since last year. It has reportedly created shell companies such as Sixty Eight Research to keep the Apple car plan a secret. Apple has a habit of keeping its projects under the wraps, but testing a big product like a car in real-world driving conditions would expose it to the public.
Apple car is expected to hit the roads by 2020. Last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the automobile industry was going to see “significant changes” in the next few years. The tech giant has hired over a thousand artificial intelligence experts, battery technology experts, and automobile engineers since the beginning of this year. Jefferies & Co analysts said in October that the average of the Apple car will be $55,000, though some versions may cost upward of $100,000.