Today, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate bill 1298 into law at Google HQ in Mountain View. He was joined by Google’s Sergey Brin and bill sponsor Alex Padilla.
The bill forces California to adopt rules and regulations for the operating of driverless cars and it also legalizes their operation on public roads.
“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.”
Google’s Sergey Brin (sporting Google Glass) hit on why he’s excited about the technology; access to transportation, getting stuff done while in traffic, and eliminating congestion being a few reasons. One interesting point he took some time on involved car sharing, and how that would beautify urban areas.
“Parking lots scar to surface of the earth, because cars are utilized poorly.” They are mostly just sitting there, as only 3% of a car’s life is spent driving, said Brin. “There’s very little car sharing going on. What i see in this project is the ability to transform our urban centers.”
The driverless cars could drop off a rider, and immediately go on to transport another rider. This perk to the technology was also mentioned recently by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, who think that self-driving cars could account for 75% of traffic on the road by the year 2040.
“I expect that self-driving cars are going to be far safer than human driven cars,” said Brin. He said he expects them to “dramatically improve the quality of life for everyone.”
“I would hope that people can broadly utilize this technology within several years,” said Brin when asked about a timeframe. “I can count [the number of years] on my hands.”
“This self-driving car is another step forward in this long march of California leading the world,” said Gov. Brown.
And when asked about some groups who may be “skittish” about the new technology, Gov. Brown said that “Anyone who gets in a car and realizes it’s driving itself will be a little skittish…but they’ll get over it.”