UPDATE: It's been signed.
Late last month, California's SB 1298 landed on the Governor's desk after being passed in both the Senate and the Assembly (37-0, 74-2, respectively). And today, Gov. Jerry Brown plans to sign the bill into law at Google Headquarters in Mountain View.
Sergey Brin will be there, and you can watch the event at 1 pm PT over on Google's YouTube channel.
SB 1298 will force California to adopt regulations for the operating of driverless cars as well as legalize operation on public roads. It will also change the definition of the word "operator" to include a person who engages driverless technology.
"Existing law requires the Department of the California Highway Patrol to adopt rules and regulations that are designed to promote the safe operation of specific vehicles, including, among other things, schoolbuses and commercial motor vehicles," says the bill. "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. 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."
Bill sponsor Senator Alex Padilla has made the argument that "autonomous vehicles have the potential to significantly reduce traffic fatalities and improve safety on our roads and highways," considering that the "vast majority of vehicle accidents are due to human error."
Of course, it's fitting that Gov. Brown plans to sign the bil into law in Mountain View. Although Google isn't the only company working on driverless technology, they are the the most outspoken champions of it.
The Bay Citizen reveals just how much effort Google put into making this new law a reality. The company paid $140,000 to lobby the California Highway Patrol, and a couple years back gave $64,000 in campaign contributions to Senate and Assembly candidates. The company also donated to Gov. Brown as well as the woman he defeated, Meg Whitman. And that was a few years ago - they've no doubt upped their game in recent years.
Reminder: You can watch the event live here at 1 pm PST.