LA Times: DMV ‘revisiting’ its approach to regulating Tesla’s public self-driving test
BY RUSS MITCHELL STAFF WRITER
For years, Tesla has tested autonomous vehicle technology on public roads without reporting crashes and system failures to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, as other robot car developers are required to do under DMV regulations.
But confronted with dozens of viral videos showing Tesla’s Full Self-Driving beta technology driving the car into dangerous situations, and a letter of concern from a key state legislator, the DMV now says it’s reviewing Tesla’s behavior and reassessing its own policies.
The agency informed Tesla on Jan. 5 that it is “revisiting” its opinion that the company’s test program doesn’t fall under the department’s autonomous vehicle regulations because it requires a human driver.
“Recent software updates, videos showing dangerous use of that technology, open investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the opinions of other experts in this space” prompted the reevaluation, the DMV said in a letter Monday to state Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), chair of the Senate’s transportation committee.
Concerned about public safety, Gonzalez asked the DMV in December for its take on Tesla’s Full Self-Driving beta program, under which Tesla owners supervise the operation of cars programmed to autonomously navigate highways, city streets and neighborhood roads, stopping at traffic lights and stop signs as well as making left and right turns into traffic.
Those are the same features being tested by other robot car developers that report crashes and disengagements to the DMV, a group that includes Waymo, Cruise, Argo and Zoox. Although their cars occasionally crash, there are few YouTube videos that show them behaving dangerously.