Californians could be sharing the road with self-driving cars by early next year. That’s when the California Department of Motor Vehicles expects to finalize rules that would allow the testing of autonomous vehicles on public roadways.

“California is leading the way in autonomous vehicles and these testing regulations are the first step in making the technology available,” said Bernard Soriano, DMV’s deputy director, who leads the effort. 

The DMV released draft testing regulations Dec. 2 and will accept comments on the rules until Jan. 13. The agency expects to finalize the rules in spring 2014.

The California DMV has been developing testing regulations for the past 11 months, including requirements for insuring and registering the vehicles. In addition, the agency is developing regulations that will cover the public operation of self-driving cars on public roadways. Those regulations will be completed by Jan. 1, 2015.