Self-Driving Cars May Redefine Driver's Licenses | Edmunds

Self-Driving Cars May Redefine Driver's Licenses


ANN ARBOR, Michigan Self-driving cars may turn the traditional approach to driver's licenses on its head, according to University of Michigan researchers.

Instead of the human driver being required to possess a license, the researchers suggest that self-driving vehicles should be required to pass a licensing test.

In fact, a graduated driver licensing system may be a logical approach when it comes to self-driving cars.

"The GDL approach would be applicable should a manufacturer explicitly decide to limit the operation of its vehicles to certain conditions, until improved hardware or software becomes available," said Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute in a statement on Thursday.

For instance, an automaker may "feel confident that its vehicles could handle all situations, except nighttime and snow," they said.

In that case, the vehicle would be given a "provisional license" that would exclude those two situations.

A full license would be granted once updates to hardware or software are developed and made available, and the updated vehicle passes an unrestricted licensing test.

Google is in the process of developing a self-driving vehicle, along with several automakers. Ford is edging closer to launching an autonomous vehicle in Ford showrooms, while Nissan has pledged to have a self-driving car available by 2020.

Edmunds says: Think of it as a driver's license for robots.

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