California set to allow driverless vehicles on its roads starting in 2018

But California won't be the first to permit totally driverless vehicles on the heart of its roads.

Also, firms testing autonomous vehicles with backup drivers will be required to use a standardized template for reporting "disengagements" that occur when the backup driver has to take over operation of the vehicle.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is proposing more lenient state regulations to allow manufacturers to test and deploy self-driving cars. "Under the Trump administration approach, automakers can glance at the [federal] policy and say, 'That's nice, ' and then do whatever they want as they use our roads as private laboratories and threaten highway safety".

"The new California DMV proposal wrongly relies on the federal government, when there are absolutely no Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards applying specifically to autonomous vehicle technology", he said in a statement.

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California's change in tack comes as other states build momentum with looser regulations.

Still, Wednesday's announcement puts California on the verge of finalizing rules for public access which were due more than two years ago.

Dozens of companies are busy testing their self-driving tech in the Sunshine State, which has regulations favorable to the fledgling industry.

Though California has been a hub for autonomous vehicle development, companies such as Waymo and Uber have been operating self-driving ride-hailing pilots in Arizona and Pennsylvania, where regulations are less restrictive. Before approval of those, the regulations will be made subjected to the public comment period, which will be ending by October 25 and then will be submitted to the enforcement of the State Government.

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Transportation for America is concerned that the federal rule-making process has been rushed and opaque, and the DMV's quick turnaround on these proposed regulations seems a bit rushed as well. "We continue to require that a manufacturer. certify that the vehicle will operate safely".

Wade Newton, a spokesman for trade group the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said Wednesday it appeared that California had recognized that "certain onerous" requirements could delay deployment of self-driving technology. Lastly, automakers and other companies must report back to the state if the entity makes a major technological upgrade.

"A special permit is still required to deploy, creating regulatory uncertainty and raising concerns about the ability of autonomous vehicles to cross state lines", it said.

Consumer Watchdog criticized the revisions, saying California should stick to its earlier, stricter state requirements.Consumer Watchdog criticized the revisions, saying California should stick to its earlier, stricter state requirements. States could set rules on registration, licensing, liability, insurance and safety inspections, but not performance standards.

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