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Waymo formally applies for fully driverless car tests in California

Remote operators linked to the cars will need to stand by in case of an emergency.
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JasonDoiy via Getty Images

Waymo has officially applied to the California DMV to test autonomous cars without drivers in the state. A source told the San Francisco Chronicle that the company will start trials around its Mountain View headquarters where it's been testing its self-driving Chrysler Pacific minivans, though those had personnel behind the wheel just in case. Eventually, they'll expand no-trial driving to more of the Bay Area, the source said.

The California DMV had predicted they'd be ready for automakers to start testing driverless cars on public roads in April, and started accepting applications on the 2nd of the month. The new rules also allow testing vehicles without steering wheels, foot pedals and mirrors. Waymo is actually the second company to apply for driverless testing in California. The DMV confirmed to the San Francisco Chronicle that two have submitted appropriate paperwork (the first applied earlier this month), but declined to identify either.

In place of a backup driver, the DMV would require companies to link their test vehicles to remote operators, who could take over in the event of an emergency. Back in March, Arizona's governor opened up driverless car tests in the state, and notably won't require the same wired-in operators waiting to step in. It should be noted that in the fatal crash involving an autonomous Uber car just weeks later, a test driver had been behind the wheel.

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