California Allows Self-Driving Cars To Carry Passengers
California regulators (CPUC) are now allowing companies to offer rides in self-driving cars as part of a pilot program.
The California Public Utilities Commission has actually given the green light to two pilot programs. One where companies can provide a passenger service with a safety driver behind the wheel, and another without. With the latter, the vehicle’s status and operation must be monitored remotely at all times when the vehicle is on the road.
In addition, the companies are not allowed to charge passengers for any of the rides. So if you’re able to get a lift in one of the driverless cars, you’ll be driven to your destination for free.
Free ride? Sounds pretty good to us.
CPUC commissioner Liane M. Randolph said she was “pleased to launch these pilot programs as part of the evolution of the passenger transportation system in California,” adding, “Our state is home to world-class innovative companies and I look forward to these services being offered with the high level of safety that we expect from our passenger service providers.”
Participating companies are required to comply with all DMV regulations, and to “report certain data” to the CPUC on a quarterly basis. That data includes information like total miles driven, collision information, average time spent waiting between passenger trips, and even whether the cars are electric or not. All of the companies are also required to “make their best efforts to reach out and work with individuals and groups that are knowledgeable about and advocates for accessible transportation,” according to the approved proposal.
There are a few rules passengers should be aware of. For one, you must be at least 18 to participate in the program. You can’t use it to get a free ride to the airport. And no fare-splitting is allowed, though it’s unclear how you could ever split a free ride.