While California has been allowing since April test drives of autonomous cars on public roads without a safety driver on board, now the legal hurdles were removed to allow those driverless cars to drive passengers.
The California Public Utility Commission (CPUC), which also regulates taxi services, has agreed to that change in regulation. With one caveat: the companies cannot charge a fee – yet. With this little detail it shall become clear for passengers that those rides will still be test drives, supporting the development of self-driving technology.
The companies lobbied for allowing to charge fees, and limiting the data that the regulators request. Several public agencies requested the CPUC for anonymized data from the companies to better understand safety and traffic aspects.
Today’s decision requires the companies to release the following data: collision reports, total vehicle miles traveled, miles traveled during passenger service, and the total number of rides accessible to the disability community, among other data. Already today the all companies operating with a California test license – a total of 54 companies – have to submit collision reports and an annual Disengagement Report.
Early 2019 the CPUC will put the fees on the agenda and form a decision. Already today companies such as Waymo are operating in Arizona with passengers in their cars but without safety drivers.
This article has also been published in German.