Californian senators have passed a bill that looks set to make the state the second in the US to approve self-driving cars on its roads.
The bill was passed unanimously by state senators, and now hits the desk of governor Jerry Brown, who’s expected to sign it into law.
It calls on the California Department of Motor Vehicles to start developing standards and licensing procedures for autonomous vehicles.
“This bill would require the department to adopt safety standards and performance requirements to ensure the safe operation and testing of ‘autonomous vehicles’, as defined, on the public roads in this
state,” it reads.
“The bill would permit autonomous vehicles to be operated or tested on the public roads in this state pending the adoption of safety standards and performance requirements that would be adopted
under this bill.”
Until these standards are developed, though, it’s unclear precisely under what conditions driverless cars will be allowed to operate. It’s pretty certain that a driver will be required to sit behind the steering wheel at all times, as in Nevada.
Google’s already been testing its autonomous vehicles on California roads for some time. In a recent blog post, engineering lead Chris Urmson said that the company’s cars had now completed more than 300,000 miles of testing without a single accident.
Don’t expect to be riding in a self-driving car any time soon, though.
“To provide the best experience we can, we’ll need to master snow-covered roadways, interpret temporary construction signals and handle other tricky situations that many drivers encounter,” says Urmson.
“As a next step, members of the self-driving car team will soon start using the cars solo (rather than in pairs), for things like commuting to work. This is an important milestone, as it brings this technology one step closer to every commuter.”