Driverless Cars – Coming Soon to a Street Near You?

July 9, 2014by Michael OBrien

Filed under: Internet & Tech, Science, Social Issues

Congress may have broken the driverless car on the streets of Washington, D.C., but that hasn’t stopped state legislatures from looking at autonomous vehicles as the wave of the future in their state.

Michigan is the most recent state to approve autonomous vehicles, at least in theory, joining California, Florida and Nevada.  In those states, regulators are busy writing the rules that will officially allow the self driving cars on the roads.  California expects to issue licenses for autonomous cars in September.  Currently all states are requiring a “driver,” or a human being to be present to take over the car should something go wrong.

But states don’t appear to be afraid.  Several have introduced bills that would allow for autonomous vehicles or calling for their state transportation agencies to study the issue.  California is even looking beyond cars, with a bill that would allow the City of Lancaster to research and develop autonomous public busses (CA AB2258).  I would expect to see more bills (and more grassroots-type demo days at State Houses across the country) when state legislatures go back in session in January.

Highlight of autonomous vehicle legislation introduced in states’ most recent legislative sessions –

But Google plans to continue to push the envelope.  The company is looking to launch fully autonomous (read driverless) cars, with nothing but a start and stop button to control.  Most state regulators can rest for a while on that one, as Google plans to keep testing confined to California, where the company is based.  At least for now.

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