Science & Technology Law

Driverless Cars Get Green Light in California

Clearing the way for testing and regulations, California became the third state to legalize driverless cars, prompting Gov. Jerry Brown to quip that the state is one step closer to making science fiction a reality.

Lobbying for the so-called autonomous vehicles has intensified as manufacturers tout the eventual safety improvements by minimizing human error.

The San Francisco Chronicle cites a 2006 U.S. Department of Transportation study finding driver error in 80 percent of motor vehicle accidents. “Computers, on the other hand, never get tired or distracted. Presumably they also won’t speed, run red lights, forget to signal or tailgate,” the paper notes.

But critics still worry about privacy issues because of the amount of data collected by the cars’ computer, computer error leading to accidents, and liability. That’s why drivers aren’t likely to see many autonomous vehicles on the road just yet, at least not without a human companion.

The legislation in California requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to establish safety regulations. The cars are also required to be manned in case the driver needs to take over.

Nevada passed driverless car legislation in 2011 and Florida legalized the vehicles earlier this year.

Hat tip: Pat’s Papers.

Related posts:

Google Lobbies Nevada for Laws to Allow Self-Driving Cars

Who’s Liable for a Driverless Car Accident? Google Test Raises the Issue

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