Saturday, September 01, 2012

Google's driverless cars clear California hurdle

You might have expected Google's self-driving cars to be accepted in California first. After all, that's the state Google's HQ is in. Instead, though, it was Nevada that first approved those cars. Now, however, California is one step closer to the same type of law.

On Friday, the California state legislature passed a bill, SB 1298, that would require the California Highway Patrol to adopt safety standards and requirements for autonomous vehicles, i.e., self-driving cars. The bill now goes to governor Jerry Brown for his signature.

State senator Alex Padilla (D), said the following when he introduced the bill in March:

“The vast majority of vehicle accidents are due to human error. Through the use of computers, sensors and other systems, an autonomous vehicle is capable of analyzing the driving environment more quickly and operating the vehicle more safely. Autonomous vehicles have the potential to significantly reduce traffic fatalities and improve safety on our roads and highways.”

In August, Google said that its fleet of self-driving cars had logged over 300,000 miles without an accident while the car was under computer control (there was an accident when a self-driving car was under human control). The company added that it plans to begin sending out cars with only a single occupant, rather than with a driver and co-driver, as has been done until now.

Google believes that autonomous cars could be ready for public roads in less than a decade, and automakers like Ford have said that they believe consumers can expect to see such cars on the road by 2017.

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Google added that the next stage of testing will help their autonomous car technology handle situations such as snow-covered highways and pop-up construction signals.

You can watch a demo, posted earlier this year by Google. embedded.

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