California is on track to become the second state to approve the Google car for public road testing following the example Nevada set early this month. The bill that allows autonomous cars to drive on public roads passed the California State Senate and will now go on to the Assembly for further consideration next month. If passed, it would see guildelines established for testing like what’s already going on in Nevada to take place in the Golden State.
“Human error is the cause of almost every accident on the road today,” Democratic State Senator Alex Padilla said to the LA Times. “If autonomous technology can reduce the number of accidents, then we also reduce the number of injuries and fatalities on California’s roads. For me this is a matter of safety.”
Padilla isn’t alone. Last March a computer simulation of how self-driving cars could potentially change how intersections work showed that autonomous driving can be more efficient and safer in busy road conditions. In the simulation we see little rectangles representing cars navigating a busy intersections, mostly without stopping. One color represents human-driven cars, the other computer-controlled. The autonomous vehicles essentially ran through without stopping — or crashing. Meanwhile, human-operated vehicles needed to wait.
As the idea of autonomous cars settles in and becomes more mainstream, more states are also thinking of following Nevada’s example. Hawaii, Florida, Oklahoma and Arizona are currently considering the idea. As the law stands now, self-driven cars still need to have someone at the wheel, even though they aren’t actually driving.
Padilla’s proposal not only mandates that there be someone behind the wheel, but that person must also be a licensed driver. It also leaves open space for the state’s highway patrol to recommend additional requirements for improved safety.
[Source: LA Times]