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California allows driverless prototypes to carry passengers

by Justin King

Regulators are not yet willing to let companies charge for rides in a car without a human driver behind the wheel, however.

California has approved new regulations that will allow autonomous cars to carry passengers without a human driver behind the wheel.

The state DMV earlier this year gave its blessing to testing fully driverless cars on public roads. The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday added approval for carrying passengers without a human safety driver behind the wheel.

The CPUC is still effectively limiting companies to experimental pilot programs, however, as passengers cannot be charged for rides in driverless cars.

A San Francisco Examiner report suggests Lyft, Zoox and other companies had pushed the CPUC to not publicly disclose crash and driving data, while Waymo and other players wanted to be able to charge customers.

CPUC Commissioner Liane Randolph rejected both pleas, noting that free rides reflect the nature of pilot programs and will encourage the public to be more "mindful of their experiences and provide critical feedback to the Commission and the permit-holders." She also argued that public disclosure of mandatory reporting data will help the public assess the safety of autonomous vehicles.

Companies will be required to report any collisions, total vehicle miles traveled, and miles traveled during passenger service, among other information.