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California gives go-ahead for licensing Google self-driving cars

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California’s Department of Motor Vehicles has just approved new regulations that will permit the use of Google self-driving cars on its streets by September 16th. However, “only designated employees of select autonomous car manufacturers” will be allowed to apply for a license. In addition, the DMV requires that the employee test drivers must be licensed to operate a motor vehicle for at least three years and be ready to take over operation of the car at anytime. They must also have no record of accidents that resulted in injuries, and have a maximum of 1 point on their licenses. All self-driving cars must be insured for a minimum of $5 million against personal injury, death or property damage.

Eligible drivers may begin applying for licenses beginning in July. The cost will be $150; and cover 10-20 cars. Additional rules for public use of autonomous cars could be in place by the beginning of next year.

This makes California the third state in the union to legalize the use of autonomous cars. The first was Nevada which passed its own law on June 29, 2011, although Nevada’s DMV did not issue the first license (a Toyota Prius) until May 2012. Florida became the second state to allow testing for self-driving cars on public roads in April 2012.