Southern California environment news and trends

California State Senate approves self-driving car bill

Zack Sheppard/Flickr

A Google self-driving car.

Senate Bill 1298, instructing the California Highway Patrol to develop safety and performance standards for self-driving cars, passed the State Senate in a bipartisan and unanimous 37-0 vote.

California Senator Alex Padilla, who announced SB1298 this past March in Sacramento after arriving in a self-driven Toyota Prius, sees the passage as a positive step both for road safety and ultimately, the state’s economy. Google and Caltech are among the companies leading the design of the autonomous vehicles.

“Developing and deploying autonomous vehicles will not only save lives, it will create jobs,” he said to Wired, adding that, “California is uniquely positioned to be the global leader in this field.”

In addition to establishing the aforementioned performance guidelines, the bill allows the California Highway Patrol and DMV to recommend any additional safety requirements. The cars, which are controlled through radar, lasers and video cameras, would require a licensed driver behind the wheel at all times.