In Brief

California Approves Self-Driving Cars on Public Streets

Google Self-Driving Car
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Google CEO Larry Page and Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin pose in a Google self-driving car in Jan. 2011. (Image credit: Google)

Self-driving cars are set to roll out in the Golden State later this year. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) adopted official regulations this week for testing driverless cars on public roads.

The new rules, which will take effect statewide on Sept. 16, were approved just months after the DMV held a public hearing, in January, to debate the use of self-driving cars on California streets, reported Ars Technica.

The newly adopted regulations will require companies to apply for a designated testing permit and obtain a $5 million insurance bond for protection, according to Ars Technica. The DMV will also require researchers to undergo training and complete a certification program; and the vehicle operators must remain in the driver's seat for the duration of the test drives.

"As automated systems get more complex, human understanding also gets more complex," Bryant Walker Smith, a fellow at the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS), told Ars Technica. "For a vehicle to suddenly swerve to the right, a human would have to grab [the steering wheel]. … Training becomes even more important, and it would also be important for general users."

If a driverless car gets into an accident on the road, the mishap must be reported to the DMV within 10 days, the new rules state. Operators must also report to the DMV if a car's self-driving functions are disengaged for any safety reasons.

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Denise Chow
Live Science Contributor

Denise Chow was the assistant managing editor at Live Science before moving to NBC News as a science reporter, where she focuses on general science and climate change. Before joining the Live Science team in 2013, she spent two years as a staff writer for, writing about rocket launches and covering NASA's final three space shuttle missions. A Canadian transplant, Denise has a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, and a master's degree in journalism from New York University.