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The California PUC issues a proposal for autonomous vehicles that transport passengers

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California may begin allowing cars that drive, like this one for Lyft, to transport passengers without a human driver behind the wheel.


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Regulators in California are approaching to allow driverless cars to carry passengers, even without a backup driver present.

The State Public Services Commission issued a proposal on Friday that would authorize a pilot test program for the autonomous vehicle passenger service. One version of the program would allow testing with one driver and another without a driver.

The proposal comes a month after the California Department of Motor Vehicles said it would begin accepting applications for completely driverless cars to begin testing public roads . The PUC regulates companies, including those in the transportation sector, while the DMV has jurisdiction over the safe operation of vehicles.

Both actions signal some forward movement for autonomous vehicles after a bad time for emerging technology. In March, a driverless car operated by Uber hit and killed a pedestrian in Arizona, even though he had a driver behind the wheel. That led to the cessation of testing of driverless cars there and elsewhere, amid concerns that the tests were moving too fast.

Uber said after the incident that would stop its autonomous vehicle program in California, as it did in other states, and would not seek to renew its autonomous vehicle test permit, which expired on March 31 .

To secure a driverless permit, the California DMV says that applicants must meet a number of requirements, including two-way communications and safety equipment to prevent cyber attacks, and the vehicle must not be operated autonomously outside. of certain designated areas and conditions.

The California PUC proposal addresses, in part, issues raised by companies such as the automotive General Motors and Lyft company . It could be considered from the commission meeting on May 10.

Neither GM nor Lyft responded immediately to a request for comment.

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