California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation to begin the process of allowing driverless cars on state roads and highways. These cars are the latest enterprise of Google, Inc.
The self-driving, or autonomous, cars use computers and sensors to drive without the assistance of a driver. However, the driver is still able to take control of the car when necessary.
Google hopes to collaborate with the automobile industry to build commercial self-driving cars. The company predicts the autonomous cars will be available for purchase within 10 years.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin believes the autonomous cars can make our roads safer. They offer an option for people who might not be able to drive otherwise, such as those who are blind or disabled. These cars may even decrease the dangers of drunk driving, if intoxicated individuals are allowed to use them to get home safely.
Some groups are not as confident about the new enterprise or the new legislation in California. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers believes the safety legislation is problematic because it does not require the auto manufacturer's consent or knowledge to turn a car that has already been manufactured into a self-driving vehicle.
The new legislation also necessitates that the California Department of Motor Vehicles create rules for the autonomous cars by 2015. These regulations will require that a licensed driver be in the driver's seat even as the car runs automatically. The individual in the driver's seat will be required to be able to take over driving the vehicle in the event of an emergency.
Source: Huffington Post, "California governor signs driverless cars bill," Terence Chea, September 26, 2012.
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