California senator wants to legalize autonomous vehicles

Posted by Shane McGlaun

There are several states and various industry heavyweights that envision an autonomous future for automobiles.

Google, for example, has been long been working on automated vehicles, while Ford recenty said it expected to see cars with varying degrees of autonomy hitting American roads within the next decade.

As such, a number of states are moving to legalize the testing and use of automated vehicles on their highways, including Nevada where Google is known to have deployed prototype automated cars.

Now Wired reports that California Senator Alex Padilla is pushing legislation that would legalize the testing and use of self-driving automobiles on the roads within the state of California.

Padilla wants California to follow in Nevada's footsteps by outlining the requirements for testing autonomous vehicles within the state on public roads. With the massive, thriving technology sector in Silicon Vallet, the state's roads may be the perfect place to gauge the navigational capabilities of automated vehicles.

"California is uniquely positioned to be a global leader in this field," said Padilla. "The vast majority of vehicle accidents are due to human error. Through the use of computers, sensors and other systems, an autonomous vehicle is capable of analyzing the driving environment more quickly and operating a vehicle more safely."

There are several colleges and universities within the state of California that have worked with automakers on developing automated vehicle technology - and officially allowing test runs on public highways would help bolster current relationships and make future field trials easier to facilitate.

Padilla introduced his legislation last Friday, which read in part, "…seeks to avoid interrupting these activities while at the same time creating appropriate rules intended to ensure that the testing and operation of autonomous vehicles in the state are conducted in a safe manner."

The senator defines an automated vehicle as one "that uses computers, sensors, and other technology and devices - enabling the vehicle to safely operate without the active control and continuous monitoring of a human operator."