California to begin handing out driver's licenses to autonomous cars

Starting this September, some drivers on California roadways won't be seated behind the wheel. Instead, the new cars will do the driving themselves. There will still be people behind the driver's wheel, but in light of the new driver's licenses those folks will be more like co-pilots, only taking control if the self-driving car runs into a problem.

The license isn't the first of its kind, but it is the most all-encompassing when it comes to where self-driving cars can go. Any roadways in the state of California will be open to the vehicles, and they won't even have to have the same person behind the wheel for their licenses to be valid. In fact, each license will cover up to 10 vehicles and 10 human co-pilots. All that coverage will cost a paltry $150. Of course, should anything go wrong, the autonomous cars will have to be insured for a minimum of $5 million — not exactly a walk in the park.

There are a whole bunch of other stipulations that go along with the new licenses, but what they boil down to is this: yes, self driving cars will be on the California highways and by-ways later this year, but they won't exactly be up for grabs at local dealerships. For now, the only folks with the ability to get behind the wheel of a self-driving car are employees of Google, Volvo or one of the other companies working on them. The autonomous car is still a little way off for most of us (2020 is the year most automakers are shooting for), but it's encouraging to note that later this year, anywhere in the state of California, you just might find yourself sharing the road with a robot.

California DMV (PDF), via TechCrunch

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