updated 12:13 pm EDT, Fri August 31, 2012
Autonomous car bill just need California governor signature before it becomes law
A bill that would allow autonomous cars to drive on California roads is coming closer to approval, having passed through California state Assembly on Wednesday and given approval by the state Senate on Thursday. The bill made the rounds earlier this year as well. It now needs the signature of Governor Jerry Brown before autonomous vehicles are legally allowed to drive on California roads.
It would also then require the California Department of Motor Vehicles to set out standards these vehicles have to follow by January 2015. These would have to made from scratch. One of the stipulations in the bill is that a human driver is behind the wheel should the system malfunction.
Google is a huge proponent of such legislation and has autonomous cars ready. It has completed over 300,000 miles of accident-free tests with its autonomous fleet of Toyota Prius, which were modified just for the task.
Once passed, California would become the second state after Nevada to allow autonomous vehicles on its roads.
Still, critics see some issues with the idea. Particularly, it's a question of who's liable if an autonomous vehicle crashes and lawsuits are filed.
Other states looking at similar legislation include Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, and Oklahoma.