California clears the way for testing of fully driverless cars. Local, federal interests have concerns

At the beginning of the year, efforts to put driverless cars on California’s streets looked like they were careening.

Uber had defied state officials by failing to get permits to test its technology and then the company shipped its cars to Arizona to test them there. After four years of trying, regulators were still trying to write rules for testing cars without anyone in the driver’s seat. Lawmakers and tech industry representatives worried that California was losing its grip on innovation in a sector primed for growth.

Now, after this year’s release of guidelines from the state Department of Motor Vehicles, the mood has changed. Californians should expect to see driverless cars tested on the state’s roads early next year.

“It’s been very exciting to see such responsiveness,” said Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), one of many legislators who had been critical of the state’s prior regulatory efforts.

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