Apple Inc., Tesla, and Alphabet's Waymo encouraged the state of California to tighten up its proposed policy on testing self-driving cars. This move would end up in a more public data that could help the tech giants catch up to rivals in the self-driving space by giving a much better window into their strengths and weaknesses.
Through a letter made public on Friday, Apple stated some changes to the policy that is under development and they are looking forward to working with California and other states "so that rapid technology development may be realized while ensuring the safety of the traveling public." Other companies such as Ford Motor Co, Uber Technologies Inc, and Toyota Motor Corp. had already filed comments suggesting the said changes.
"We're encouraged by the DMV efforts to develop regulations for autonomous vehicles that would help California remain a leader in the development of self-driving cars," Waymo said in a statement. "Waymo looks forward to deploying this life-saving technology in the state."
The state of California replied on Tuesday stating that it would review the comments before they decide whether to change the policy that will allow companies to test vehicles with the traditional steering wheels and controls or human backup drivers. California is now in a race to develop autonomous vehicles, and the proposed changes from large automakers and tech companies could help provide insight into current efforts.
Meanwhile, Tesla stated that California shouldn't also bar testing prototype autonomous vehicles that are weighing 10,000 pounds or more. The weight cap will not affect passenger car but would affect commercial vehicles.
Tesla is planning to reveal an electric semi-truck this coming September, and it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine the company that is trying to apply its autonomous-driving tech to the big trucks. According to the Master Plan for Tesla, Musk mentioned a vehicle that can function as an autonomous bus, but with riders hailing it via an app instead of waiting at bus stops.
Waymo and General Motors also made comments about liability policies. Liability is one of the largest question marks circling self-driving cars, as manufacturers, regulators, and insurance companies haven't yet figured out who is responsible when an autonomous vehicle crashes. These companies manufacturing the said vehicles will surely put pressure on regulators to limit their liability as much as possible.