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Calif expected to approve remotely-monitored autonomous cars

The new rules would eliminate the need for a physical driver behind the wheel.

California lawmakers are moving forward with new regulations that could clear the way for driverless cars on the state's roads by the end of April.

Current California law requires an autonomous vehicle to have a human behind the wheel as a precautionary backup, but that could soon change. The state is considering a provision to its law that would allow autonomous vehicles to drive on public roads with a remote human operator at the helm.

Already used by by the U.S. military and currently under development by companies like Nissan and Waymo, the remote tech would allow autonomous vehicle operators to keep tabs on their driverless cars from a central location. The remote technology would also allow a single person to oversee the operation of several autonomous vehicles, which would eliminate costs associated with having a physical driver in every driverless car.

Startup Phantom Auto demonstrated the technology at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. The company controlled cars driving in Las Vegas via a remote operator over 500 miles away in Mountain View, California. "We think we have the ultimate backup system - which is a human," Elliot Katz, co-founder of Phantom Auto, told Reuters.

California regulators are expected to approve the measure as early as today. However, if approved, the law will need a 30-day public notice before going into effect. If all those hurdles are cleared, the new crop of driverless cars could be deployed on California's roads on April 2.