According to Reuters, California's public utility regulator on Friday signaled it would allow passengers to ride in self-driving cars without a backup driver in the vehicle. It is a big step forward for autonomous car developers, especially as the industry faces heightened scrutiny over safety concerns. From the report: The California Public Utilities Commission, the body that regulates utilities including transportation companies such as ride-hailing apps, issued a proposal that could clear the way for companies such as Alphabet's Waymo and General Motors to give members of the public a ride in a self-driving car without any backup driver present, which has been the practice of most companies so far. The California Department of Motor Vehicles had already issued rules allowing for autonomous vehicle testing without drivers, which took effect this week. The commission said its proposed rules complement the existing DMV rules but provide additional protections for passengers. The proposal, which is set to be voted on at the commission's meeting next month, would clear the way for autonomous vehicle companies to do more testing and get the public more closely acquainted with driverless cars in a state that has closely regulated the industry. It also comes as regulators across the country are taking a harder look at self-driving cars in the aftermath of a crash in Arizona that killed a pedestrian.