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Driverless Cars Now Legal In The State Of California

September 26, 2012
Image Caption: Toyota Prius modified to operate as a Google driverless car. Credit: Steve Jurvetson/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

No disrespect to our friends on the West Coast, but it´s long been the joke that things operate a little differently in California. Up is down, black is white, cars drive themselves. It´s a crazy world over there! One popular Californian company, for example, wants to make sure the world is completely operated and run by little green robots, removing as much of the human equation as possible while at the same time keeping a close eye on its users to deliver them the most relevant ads available.

Now, with these two forces combined, the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, has just signed a bill which could be the first step towards a completely automated, robotic world. As of Tuesday, September 25th, sans driver automobiles may be operated on California roads as Google operates and tests their autonomous vehicles, the next wacky idea from the search and advertising giant.

Just after being dropped off at Google´s headquarters by one of these fully independent cars – a Prius, no less – California´s governor signed the bill into legislation, saying: “Today we’re looking at science fiction becoming tomorrow’s reality – the self-driving car.”

“Anyone who gets inside a car and finds out the car is driving will be a little skittish, but they’ll get over it,” said Gov. Brown, reaffirming a dubious public, according to the Associated Press.

Another West Coast entity, the University of Washington, is already looking to the future, stocking their ranks with a law professor who studies autonomous vehicle law. Speaking to the New York Times, Ryan Calo sees Gov. Brown´s signing as a huge step forward towards our frighteningly automated world.

“It´s significant because California is a big state, a first mover and really a big player,” said Calo.

“It´s a good signal for the other states.”

As off-kilter as California might be, they do have a law in the books requiring all moving vehicles to be operated by a driver, a nice law to ensure the safety of anyone within striking distance of a roadway. And though this law has been in existence for many years, Google has been testing these chauffeur-less autos in the state, cruising up the 1 and delivering their employees to work.

To expand their testing, however, Google wanted to make sure their little stunt was completely legal. Nevada and Florida have also legalized these cars as they prepare themselves for the alleged way of the future.

Google, at least, believes their new cars will be that future.

“I think the self-driving car can really dramatically improve the quality of life for everyone,” said Google´s co-founder Sergey Brin.

As it stands, driving can be such a bore, said Brin. Google hopes these new, automated cars could not only make driving (or is it riding?) fun again, but also reduce traffic congestion and allow those without the ability to drive a way to get around town.

“I think Google´s endgame is more about how they can be software as a service for the entire driverless car industry,” said law professor Calo.

So, does that mean we´ll see an Android-powered smart car in the next 20 years, capable of rerouting us away from traffic congestion as well as towards that bagel shop offering special afternoon prices that Google thinks we might enjoy based on previous searches?

Or will we see Apple and Google move their smartphone battle from our pockets to the roadways?


Source: Michael Harper for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online



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