Environment & Science

California lawmaker introduces bill to develop standards for self-driving cars

A Google self-driving car.
A Google self-driving car.
Zack Sheppard/Flickr

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Fasten your seatbelt, start up your engine and let go of the wheel. California lawmakers will consider a bill Tuesday that would pave the way for driverless cars on California’s roads.

It may sound counterintuitive, but computer-driven cars could make the streets and highways safer and less congested while also cutting fuel consumption. At least that’s what Google, BMW, Audi and Volvo want to prove.

The four major companies have been developing computers, sensors and other systems that analyze the driving environment so cars could drive themselves. That, they say, could reduce the number of accidents caused by human error.

Google’s tested its self-driving automobiles on 200,000 miles of California roads.

The state has yet to pen a law that governs the use of automatic cars, but state senator Alex Padilla wants to change that.

The Pacoima Democrat recently rode a Google self-driving car onto the state capitol lawn. There, he announced his bill that would empower the California Highway Patrol to develop standards for testing and operating automatic cars.

So far, Nevada is the only state in the nation that’s passed a law to legalize driverless cars. Arizona, Hawaii, Florida and Oklahoma are — like California — heading in that direction.