Driverless car gets green light in California

by September 25th, 2012

Google's self-driving car and the technology to power it.

Commuters could soon be sharing the road with self-driving cars: Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Tuesday that would allow the vehicles to be tested and operated on California roads.

“We are looking at science fiction becoming reality in a self-driving car,” Brown said during a ceremony at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

Caltech, Google and other companies have been developing the cars, which use radar, video cameras and lasers to navigate freeways sans human input. (The legislation, S. 1298, requires a licensed driver to be at the wheel in case something goes wrong.)

In addition to allowing drivers the ability to work or relax while in gridlock, the vehicles could increase fuel efficiency, reduce emissions and communicate with one another to improve traffic. The vehicles could also improve safety since human error causes most car accidents, which kill more than 40,000 Americans each year.

“We can save lives, create jobs and reduce congestion,” said Google co-founder Sergey Brin, adding that the vehicles are in line with the search giant’s goal of “creating technology to dramatically improve the world.”

Last year, Nevada signed similar autonomous vehicle legislation into law; Arizona, Hawaii, Oklahoma and Florida could soon follow suit.

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