Google and Automakers Object to California Proposed Rules for Autonomous Vehicles

Google and automakers objected to California’s proposal on self-driving cars during a hearing in Sacramento on Wednesday.

Executives from Google and automakers expressed concerns over the state’s perceptibly stringent proposals requiring compliance with federal regulations issued last month that were made voluntary. General Motors, Volkswagen, Honda, and Ford joined Google in outlining concerns, along with an advocacy group representing Google, Ford, Volvo, Uber, and Lyft.

One issue drawing ire at the hearing is California proposing a requirement for using a new autonomous vehicle data recorder and what data they would be required to test. Another controversial issue has been forcing a 12-month delay between testing a vehicle and deploying it on public roads.

Automakers also questioned whether law enforcement agencies should be able to get any autonomous vehicle data within 24 hours without seeking a warrant or subpoena.

Generating a year of self-driving car testing data before applying for an operating permit drew objections from automakers, Google, and an advocacy group.

The state’s approach “could greatly delay the benefits that self-driving vehicles can bring to safety and mobility for individuals,” said David Strickland, who heads the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets. Strickland previously served as head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under President Obama.

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California’s regulatory policy affects a state that has served as a starting point for several autonomous vehicle testing projects, and it influences decisions by other states across the country. In December, California had proposed to require licensed drivers and controls in self-driving vehicles, which received objections from Google. The new proposal would allow for the absence of a human driver and a steering wheel in advanced self-driving cars.

Brian Soublet, deputy director of the California DMV, said Wednesday the department wants concrete suggestions to help improve its proposal. The agency will be considering potential changes over the next several months but Soublet didn’t give a timetable for finalizing the rules.

“The goal is making sure that we can get this life-saving technology out on the streets,” Soublet said.

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