Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill making self-driving cars legal on the roads of California. Self-driving cars, such as the "Google car" have received increased attention as the tech company has poured significant resources into making the technology viable. According to a Google co-founder, the company believes that the technology could be able to reduce car accidents and reduce congestion within a handful of years. The bill sets the rules for the testing and operation of autonomous vehicles in California.
For now, self-driving cars will be required to have a driver at the wheel who will, presumably, be ready to take control in the automated functioning of the car goes amiss. Among the goals espoused by the bill's sponsor was to improve fuel efficiency, improve the flow of traffic and reduce emissions. He claimed that the majority of traffic accidents are the result of human error and that autonomous vehicles would improve safety by eliminating these mistakes.
The vehicle developed by Google uses lasers, cameras and radar to negotiate through traffic without the need of a driver. The bill puts rules in place that will govern the testing and expansion of the technology. While the vehicles will now be allowed to operate on California streets, they must meet performance and safety standards before being approved.
California is the second state to set guidelines regarding self-driving cars. Nevada enacted legislation to allow their use last year. Similar bills are currently under consideration is several states, including Florida, Arizona, Hawaii and Oklahoma.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Brown signs bill regulating self-driving cars in California," by Jerry Hirsch, 25 September 2012