Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

Google designs self-driving cars for California

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It’s not exactly public transportation, but developers at Google, Inc. are designing technology that allows cars to drive themselves. Democratic State Senator Alex Padilla is so enamored with the plans that he let a Google-designed self-driving Toyota Prius give him a lift to Sacramento to hold a news conference about it.

As reported by the Environment News Service, the reason for the occasion was Padilla’s announcement of his legislation, Senate Bill 1298, which would instruct the California Highway Patrol to start “developing guidelines” around testing and ultimately unleashing self-driving vehicles on California roads.

The Google system utilizes a “laser range finder” on the car's roof, and no less than four radars mounted on the front and back bumpers. A camera keeps an eye on traffic lights.

“It was pretty amazing when Google's vehicle went into self-driving mode,” Senator Padilla said in a press release. “The drive was smooth and safe. It worked flawlessly. It is a testament to human ingenuity and the power of technology in California.”

Google product manager Anthony Levandowski returned the sentiments, adding that, “California is our home state. Our self-driving cars have safely traveled more than 200,000 miles here. We're very fortunate to have found a supporter with a strong technical background in Senator Padilla, and we look forward to working with him throughout this process."

Nevada was the first state to approve the testing of self-driving cars on public roadways last year. Along with California, Hawaii, Florida and Oklahoma are also considering similar testing.

Google is not alone. Automakers BMW, Volvo and Audi are also developing driverless car technologies. 

“The vast majority of vehicle accidents are due to human error,” Padilla declared, doubtlessly speaking on behalf of countless L.A. drivers who are sick and tired of dealing with, well, L.A. drivers. “Autonomous vehicles have the potential to significantly reduce traffic fatalities and improve safety on our roads and highways.”

Would you feel comfortable sitting back, sending text messages and checking your hair in the mirror while the car did all of the driving?

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