California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Tuesday clearing the way for Google Cars and other self-driving cars to jockey with human-operated vehicles to test the technology on the state’s roads.
Jordan Rose, founder and president of Rose Law Group pc said, “Bring this legislation to Arizona, and we will lobby it for free. What an innovative way to change the world. I think that this may in fact be the only piece of California legislation I would ever suggest importing.”
“Autonomous vehicles (like Google Cars) are another example of how California’s technological leadership is turning today’s science fiction into tomorrow’s reality,” Brown said during a signing ceremony at the Google campus in Mountain View.
“This law will allow California’s pioneering engineers to safely test and implement this amazing new technology.”
The legislation backed by state senator Alex Padilla lets driverless cars be operated on public roads for testing purposes as long as licensed drivers are behind the wheels to take over if needed.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin heads a stealth team working on visionary innovations such as self-driving cars and eye glasses that mesh the online world with the real world.
Google Cars as explained by Sergey Brin
The Google cars use on-board cameras, lasers, radar and other sensor equipment to monitor road conditions and operate themselves. Proponents say the use of computers and other equipment will make them safer than having humans drive, since people sometimes make errors, lose concentration, fall asleep or drive drunk.
Forty thousand Americans and 1 million people worldwide are killed in automobile accidents every year, Brin said.
“I expect self-driving cars are going to be far safer than human-driven cars,” he said.
Still, autonomous vehicles will face a lot of scrutiny before they are allowed on the road, and there’s still a lot of work to be done, he said.
Google Cars have done about 300,000 miles of road testing, but not without incident, Brin said. The most the cars have achieved without “safety-critical intervention” — or a driver needing to take control — is about 50,000 miles, he said.
“That’s not good enough, and we’re continuing to work to go beyond that,” he said.
“Safety is a huge challenge for us. That’s one of the most difficult things that we undertake from a technology point of view, because there are never enough ‘nines’ in terms of getting things right,” Brin said, using a reliability term from the computer industry.