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Californian Bill Allows For (Limited) Self-Driving Car Testing Without Direct Human/Passenger Oversight

Google_Self_driving_car_lineupAutonomous or self-driving vehicle technologies can now be tested in the state of California without there being direct passenger/engineer oversight … in some instances. This follows Governor Jerry Brown signing a new bill covering the topic.

That makes for a rather important milestone — it was, after all, right around 4 years ago that self-driving vehicles first started being tested on public roads in the US. The changes are coming fast.

Engadget provides more: “Rather than applying throughout the Golden State, the bill is specific to a pilot project headed by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority. At San Ramon’s Bishop Ranch business park, EasyMile’s 12-seater shuttles will ferry workers around the site, which will include traveling on some public roads. The approval also covers GoMentum Station: A ghost town within the Concord Naval Weapons Station where Honda has been testing its driverless car technologies. Recently, Uber-owned Otto also signed up to test self-driving trucks on the site.”

Google self-driving Vehicle prototype

Continuing: “Google and Apple have also expressed interest in the naval base testbed, according to the transport authority. Apple’s autonomous plans are still the subject of much speculation, but in the immediate future, Google seems like a natural partner. Manual controls including a steering wheel and pedals are not required in test vehicles under the new bill (since there won’t be anyone on hand to use them), but for safety’s sake cars must not exceed 35MPH during trials.”

While there remains fairly widespread skepticism with regard to self-driving car technology, I think this new bill represents the way that things will actually play out — faster than many people expect, with the speed of development and deployment greatly surprising some people.

 
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Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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