California will allow fully autonomous cars without safety drivers to test on public roads for the first time. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles announced the change, which outlines a permitting process for companies wishing to deploy driverless vehicles without anyone behind the wheel. “This is a major step forward for autonomous technology in California,” DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said in a statement. “Safety is our top concern and we are ready to begin working with manufacturers that are prepared to test fully driverless vehicles in California.” Last October, the California DMV issued revised regulations governing the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles on public roads. Among their many provisions, the new rules would allow autonomous cars without steering wheels, foot pedals, mirrors and human drivers behind the wheel to be tested on its roads starting in 2018. There are currently 50 companies testing nearly 300 autonomous vehicles that are licensed with the DMV, officials said. Nearly 1,000 safety drivers are licensed to test those vehicles, but after the state’s rules go into effect, companies would be allowed to deploy cars without any human behind the wheel.