California Senate Bill 1298, authored by State Sen. Alex Padilla, sailed through the Senate this week, what had been considered by some to be a tough obstacle. It next moves on to the full Assembly next month where it seems very likely to pass. If it does pass the new legislation would clear the way for guidelines to be established allowing the operation of autonomous cars on all California roadways.
Last week Nevada became the first state to approve and register autonomous cars for their state roadways and now California is working hard to catch up.
The effort to introduce autonomous, or self-driving, cars in the United States began more than a decade ago. Google has been a huge proponent of these efforts and it was their autonomous vehicles which were ultimately approved by Nevada legislators. These vehicles are able to drive themselves using a host of on-board sensors for speed, proximity to other vehicles and obstacles and can actually “see” the road ahead of them. To navigate they use GPS and satellite navigation system. In essence, you could sent your destination, climb in and the car will deliver you safely to your destination.
Every autonomous car also has an option for the driver to manually operate the vehicle, just in case, but if the driver wants to relax, take a nap, send email messages or text their golfing buddies, that’s ok too.
Many safety experts believe that the introduction of autonomous vehicle will cause a dramatic decrease in the number of fatal traffic accidents. They also believe there will be a considerable fuel savings following the introduction of autonomous vehicles because repeated studies have shown that aggressive driving is largest consumer of fuel, and autonomous cars do not feel aggression, so that problem is solved first.
If California legislators stay true to their public convictions the new law seems likely to soon become a reality. If so, Hollywood A-listers might not need limousine drivers any more.