How to Use Autopilot and Comply With the Law (California)

May 7, 18 by Jorian Goes

How to Use Autopilot and Comply With the Law (California)

Reckless Driving On an Autonomous Car

There has been a steady growth in the number of autonomous cars over the years, and with their increase comes accidents. A reckless driver was arrested in March 2018 after driving using the autopilot feature. Can you get convicted of reckless driving if your autopilot is on? Absolutely. You will be prosecuted, a majority of cars that have autopilots such as Tesla vehicles are yet to be considered as truly autonomous cars.

Autonomous cars are vehicles that have integrated the autonomous technology into its system. According to the California law, a car can drive itself without human control or monitoring if the driver switches the autopilot mode on his/her autonomous car.

According to NHTSA, (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) in the United States, there are five levels of automated cars. In the first level, the vehicle design consists of driving assist features, and the driver controls the vehicle. In the second level, human supervision is a must when the autonomous car is on autopilot. In the third level, the driver monitors the vehicle and should be prepared to take control of the car. In the fourth and fifth level, human supervision is not essential. According to NHTSA, the driverless vehicles are those that are in the fourth and fifth category.

Tesla has only released the second level of automated vehicles according to NHTSA, and the driver has to be ready to control his vehicle to avoid accidents. The driver will be liable for reckless driving if the autonomous vehicle causes an accident or destroys property since the Tesla vehicle are classified as second level of autonomous vehicles.

Technology is yet to be improved so that the fourth and fifth level cars can be released to the market. The car manufacturers are only presently providing second level automation cars, and soon the third level vehicles will be available. All drivers must comply with the California laws when driving their vehicles. A driver’s license is required, drunk driving is not allowed, and the driver should not be engaged in other physical activities such as texting or reading a book behind the wheel.

California Rules

The California rules require the manufacturers to come up with ways in which the driverless cars will interact with the law. The rules require companies to clarify how the driverless cars will get monitored, how the crash data will be collected and how the crashes will be reported to the authorities.

The good weather in California tempts many autonomous car owners to try them on Californian roads. The car manufacturers who are also based in this state have a responsibility of addressing the various situations that will be handled by the car.

The state law needs the California Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) to come up with regulations for safe testing and deployment of autonomous cars on public roads. The DMV also has the power to issue permits for either testing or deploying the autonomous vehicles. All permits are approved after all set requirements have been met by the manufacturers.

California’s Vision for the Autonomous Vehicles

If a car does not have a driver, obviously the driver will not be responsible in case of an accident. The manufacturer will be held accountable. The California law requires the autonomous cars manufacturers to demonstrate their ability by either their financial resources or by getting the vehicles insured in case of an accident.

The autonomous vehicles must comply with the local and state driving laws. The regulations require the car companies’ certification that they will always update the vehicles’ software to comply with the law. The car owners are responsible for ensuring the updated software is functional.

The manufacturers are also expected to train the drivers or the new owners of its vehicles. The driver should have skills on how to operate the car safely. The self-driving software allows the vehicle to operate in specific environments for instance when there is no snow or on a pre-mapped road. California law needs manufacturers to describe how the vehicles will handle situations such as pulling over.

The manufacturers should not exaggerate the information about the autonomous cars because they will give false information to the public. If the autopilot software is a driver assistance feature, the manufacturer should not insinuate it is a self-driving feature. To restrict exaggerated information, California regulations require agents or manufacturers to restrain from advertising of a lease or sale of an autonomous vehicle, unless it has met the California requirements of an autonomous vehicle.

The rules also require a clear communication link between the remote operator and the autonomous vehicle. This will provide important information such as the status and location of the vehicle. It will also allow efficient communication between the passengers and the remote operator. Any car that will does not have brake pedals or a steering wheel will have to comply with federal laws.