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California starts accepting applications for driverless car permits

California starts accepting applications for driverless car permits
The rear window of a Waymo driverless car in San Francisco is shown. (Eric Risberg / Associated Press)

California began accepting applications Monday for permits to deploy self-driving cars on public roads without a human backup driver at the wheel.

Recent fatal crashes by a self-driving Uber car in Arizona and a Tesla car operating in semiautonomous Autopilot mode in California have put a spotlight on safety, and on Monday the California Department of Motor Vehicles sent out a list of safety requirements that permit applicants must meet.

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Among them, vehicles must:

  • Meet federal motor vehicle standards

  • Show results from tests that simulate real-world driving

  • Come with a two-way communications link

  • Be incapable of being operated autonomously outside the territory or driving conditions stated on the application

  • And hew to current industry standards to prevent cyberattacks.

Those requirements aren’t new — the DMV issued regulations Feb. 28 — but they provide a quick overview focusing on safety.

The DMV also noted Monday that under state driverless regulations, it can immediately suspend or revoke permits over practices it deems unsafe.

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