California is on course for a future where driverless cars are the norm. The State Senate has approved a bill, by a comprehensive vote of 37-0, that sets about establishing guidelines on how driverless cars should be used in the Golden State.
The bill, which can be read in full here, charges the Department of the California Highway Patrol and the Department of Motor Vehicles (the police and the DVLA in UK parlance) to provide recommendations as to how a driverless vehicle should be used.
Once these recommendations are in place and have been accepted, driverless cars will be allowed on public roads with a licensed driver on board. If the recommendations set forth by the DMV and highway patrol are then accepted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, autonomous vehicles will be allowed to roam free without ugly bags of mostly water having to ride shotgun.
California isn’t the only state willing to embrace driverless cars. Arizona, Hawaii, Florida and Oklahoma have all announced similar plans. Last June, Nevada tasked its Department of Transportation with developing safety standards for autonomous vehicles, and now allows Google to test its small fleet of driverless cars — with some restrictions — on the streets of Nevada.
The Californian bill is being pushed through by Senator Alex Padilla — an MIT graduate who believes robocars are the future. “Thousands of Californians tragically die in auto accidents each year,” Padilla said. “The vast majority of these collisions are due to human error. Through the use of computers, sensors and other systems, an autonomous vehicle can analyze the driving environment more quickly and accurately and can operate the vehicle more safely.”
We can’t wait to see these intelligent vehicles hit the streets of the UK, but a small part of us — the part that watched too much Terminator 2 — is slightly worried that one day they’ll become sentient and enslave us all. Do you agree? Are we mental? Let us know in the comments below.