Technology is a wonderful thing, especially when it makes us safer. We have all heard of the self-parking car along with other autonomous features installed in some of the latest vehicle designs, but a car that does not need a driver? Well, yes. California is poised to be only the second state that has approved driverless vehicles, robotic cars, self-driving automobiles, whatever you want to call them they may soon be travelling around California byways and highways.
On Monday, the California State Assembly unanimously endorsed a bill that authorizes the use of autonomous vehicles on the state's roadways. It is no secret that car accidents kill thousands of individuals in our state every year. The problem is that the majority of these accidents can be blamed on human error, an avoidable cause of death and serious injuries, to be sure. What the bill aims to do is create safety guidelines and design standards required for the safe operation of these vehicles.
The new vehicles use sensing technology to monitor their surrounding environment, such computer vision, laser, radar and GPS to navigate its path. Establishing expectations around the safety is needed before these vehicles can be approved for use on the state's roadways. Already, Google's version of the self-driving vehicle has been safely driven over 200,000 miles on California's roadways.
According to the lawmaker who authored the bill, the goal here is to reduce accident fatalities and injuries that result from car accidents every day. With the support of the Automobile Club of Southern California, Google, Inc., TechAmerica and others, the bill is set to reach the governor's desk for final approval. No word on whether or not the Governor is expected to sign it.
Anything that can reduce the number of our loved ones from being injured or killed in car and truck accidents is a good thing. Much remains to be learned about affordability of such vehicles and how they may respond when the inevitable technical glitch arises, but it's a step in the right direction for safer roadways. Now when can we expect to see flying automobiles so we can avoid the potholes and gridlock on California's highways?
Source: CalCoast News, "Designated drivers may be robots," May 21, 2012