California Scraps Safety Driver Rules for Self-Driving Cars

Uber has also deployed autonomous vehicles in Arizona, but it uses safety drivers in those cars.

“This is a significant step toward an autonomous future in the state, and signals that California is interested in leading by example in the deployment of autonomous vehicles,” Sarah Abboud, an Uber spokeswoman, said in a statement.

John M. Simpson, a director for Consumer Watchdog, a frequent critic of Alphabet’s self-driving car initiative, said the new rules will threaten highway safety as remote operators try “to control the robot car from afar.” He said the oversight will turn driving these vehicles into a video game “except lives will be at stake.”

California requires companies to report the number of “disengagements,” or instances when human drivers are forced to take over for the autonomous vehicle. Waymo had the fewest number of disengagements — based on a per mile basis — of all the companies testing cars on California roads.

Between December 2016 and November 2017, Waymo’s self-driving cars drove about 350,000 miles and human drivers intervened 63 times — or about 5,600 miles between every disengagement. Over the last few years, Waymo has made steady progress in reducing the instances when people need to retake the wheel.

Continue reading the main story