California Legislature Passes Bill for Driverless Cars

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Cal­i­for­nia is fol­low­ing Neva­da in adopt­ing dri­ver­less cars to be used in the state in the next few years. The Cal­i­for­nia leg­is­la­ture has just passed a bill sent to Gov. Jer­ry Brown for approval or veto. If it gets approved, the state’s Dept. of Motor Vehi­cles has until Jan­u­ary 2015 to deter­mine stan­dards for cars oper­at­ing on self-dri­ving tech­nolo­gies. SB 1298 from Sen. Alex Padil­la, D-Van Nuys, was passed unan­i­mous­ly by the Sen­ate the last week of August fol­low­ing the Assembly’s 74–2 approval the day before.

Google and Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty will con­tin­ue to play a crit­i­cal role in the devel­op­ment and test­ing of dri­ver­less cars, which are main­ly being done on mod­i­fied ver­sions of the Toy­ota Prius. Safe­ty is the key issue, with 99% of all traf­fic and fatal acci­dents being attrib­uted to some form of human error or imper­fec­tion. Sup­port­ers of dri­ver­less cars also talk about the fuel effi­cien­cy and traf­fic grid­lock reduc­tion ben­e­fits that dri­ver­less cars would bring to jam-packed high­ways.

Automak­ers would have to get their dri­ver­less cars approved by the state, and then licensed dri­vers would apply to become back­up oper­a­tors of the approved autonomous cars. Dri­vers will still need to sit behind the wheel, in case their dri­ving skills are need­ed. Ford, Audi, BMW, and oth­er automak­ers are work­ing to man­u­fac­ture the world’s first “autonomous” vehi­cles for con­sumers. It’s expect­ed to take at least five years for these cars to hit the mar­ket.

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