California may soon allow companies that are testing autonomous vehicles to do so without a human driver onboard - plus, picking up passengers would be allowed, as long as the ride is free.

The state Department of Motor Vehicles is refreshing its regulations regarding the testing of autonomous driving technology, which date back to 2014. Until now, the state required the 31 companies testing such technologies to have a human backup driver to intervene if necessary. Among those doing the testing is Uber, which was picking up passengers with a human seat-warmer behind the wheel until the state put a stop to it in December.

The new rules would allow the autonomous cars to pick up passengers gratis, stating:

"'Passenger' means an occupant of a vehicle who has no role in the operation of that vehicle when the autonomous technology is engaged. A passenger may summon a vehicle or input a destination, but does not engage the technology, monitor the vehicle, or drive or operate the vehicle. A member of the public may ride as a passenger in an autonomous test vehicle if there are no fees charged to the passenger or compensation received by the manufacturer."

The public has until April 25 to comment.

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