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DC Paves The Way For Self-Driving Cars

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AP Photo / Keith Srakocic


Google shows off its self-driving car in DC in 2012

A special endorsement on the drivers license will be required to operate autonomous vehicles "even if the person intends to operate an autonomous vehicle only in the non-autonomous mode." Drivers will also have to certify that they obtained training from the vehicle manufacturer or dealer in the operation of autonomous vehicles.

Notably, to obtain the special endorsement, drivers will have to acknowledge that when it comes to enforcing the District of Columbia's traffic laws they will be considered the driver of the vehicle even when operating it in autonomous mode. No blaming the technology for traffic violations.

As for the vehicles themselves, they must have a "certificate of compliance issued by vehicle manufacturer or an autonomous technology certification facility" in order to be titled in DC. The certificate of compliance must certify that the vehicle is safe to operate, has a black box to record accident data, can be easily and safely switched in and out of autonomous mode by the driver, and has a "visual indicator" inside the vehicle that alerts the driver that the vehicle is in autonomous mode.

The vehicle must also alert the driver if the autonomous technology has failed and either allow the driver to take control of the vehicle or automatically bring the car to safe stop out of the way of traffic.

DMV also wants to make sure that car is designed so that the driver can retake control of the vehicle "in multiple manners, including, without limitation, through the use of the brake, the accelerator pedal, and the steering wheel."

Autonomous vehicles will get their own special tags.

A 30-day comment period is now open before the rules are finalized.