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California is way behind Arizona when it comes to driverless cars but the state wants to catch up. The DMV seeks rules changes, and if approved, Driverless Cars Without Standby Human Assistance may happen in April.

Regulations have been under review since Jan. 11. If they are approved, the DMV must post a public notice and 30 days later could issue permits to any of the 50 companies that are testing such vehicles right now. By April 2, then, autonomous vehicles could curve down San Francisco’s crooked Lombard Street without a driver behind the wheel.

The proposed regulations require companies to notify local authorities if they plan to test vehicles in a city, and a “communication link” must be maintained between the vehicle and a remote operators. The companies must also certify the vehicle is capable of operating without the presence of a driver and notify California Highway Patrol of a “law enforcement interaction plan” that will be available for first responders.

“Under driverless testing, a permit holder can’t charge a rider,” Gonzalez told the San Francisco Examiner by email Wednesday.

California DMV has issued 50 permits to test autonomous vehicles, with drivers, to companies including Uber, BMW, Ford, Subaru, Lyft, Apple inc., Toyota Research Institute and Waymo, among others.

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Major Taxi Disruption Coming Up

In Arizona, Waymo was Approved for Level-4 Paid Taxi Service in direct competition with Uber. Waymo's driverless, paid ride, vehicles will operate later this year.

These first steps will soon escalate.

Four years from now, the taxi industry will not look like what it does today, especially at airports where an operator can easily assist reluctant passengers.

By the way, these short-haul taxi vehicles will increasingly be electric.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock