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California Proposes Rules For Autonomous Cars


Stanford/Audi TTS autonomous Pikes Peak car, aka 'Shelley'

Stanford/Audi TTS autonomous Pikes Peak car, aka 'Shelley'

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As of now, the only state where self-driving cars are legal on public roads is Nevada, thanks to its vast expanses of open space and lightly traveled byways. California, recognizing that autonomous cars are an inevitable progression of technology, is moving to establish its own rules for driverless vehicles.

A bill proposed by California Senator Alex Padilla would set guidelines for the testing and operation of self-driving vehicles within the state. As California is home to Google, Stanford and Caltech, all of which have active autonomous vehicle programs, the state is positioned to be a leader in driverless car development. It stands to reason that self-driving cars will be allowed on California's roads, probably in the near future.

If passed, Padilla’s bill would require the California Highway Patrol to establish standards and performance requirements for autonomous vehicles operated on the state’s roads. While such vehicles are legal in Nevada, they must still have a human operator behind the wheel, just in case something goes wrong.

As Padilla is quick to point out, though, autonomous cars may prove to be safer than human-operated vehicles. The Detroit News quotes the senator as saying, “The vast majority of accidents are due to human error. Autonomous vehicles have the potential to reduce traffic fatalities and improve safety on our roads and highways.”
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Comments (15)
  1. Senator Padilla is obviously some kind of control freak. How about letting the geeks finish building the tech before having the politicos that don't have a CLUE how it works start legislating it into the ground?
     
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  2. I tried to upvote, the but the site won't let me re-do the accidental click.

    More than this, they'll be legislating how it *can* work, rather than how it *does* work now. Technology changes, and legislation doesn't.
     
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  3. So you're saying you disapprove of regulation being written pro-actively instead of re-actively? You would prefer to go the route we went with CDOs and other financial derivatives...let them blow up in a way that hurts many people first, then try to regulate? Obviously, such regulation will have to be written carefully, but I'm of the opinion that turning loose thousands of pounds of metal to steer itself at 70 mph surrounded by members of the public isn't something that should be done without regulation...call me a socialist.

    Plus, by having the rules in place ahead of time, investors and engineers have a clear target. It would suck to put in all the effort of building these...and then they can't go on the roads.
     
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  4. I like high tech. I also like riding a bicycle on the highway. I am very interested in getting strong laws in place re self driving vehicles. I am especially keen that they automatically call 911 after they run me over. Hacking is also a big concern. There is considerable chance for this technology to harm non-adopters, and that doesn't seem right.
     
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  5. I don't know a single person with a bicycle who hasn't been injured by a human-driven car. People on bikes in many cities disregard laws, disrespect speed limits, and careen through red-lights at intersections.
     
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  6. I have been dealing with these drivers for the 50 years I have been riding a bike. You seem to be saying it's OK if the new technology mows down a few technologically backward bike riders. Maybe we should require all bikes or riders to have chips (like RFID) to notify the cars not to hit us. Pedestrians too?

    In part I will agree that there will come a day when the idea of fear of driverless cars will seem ludicrous. When cars first appeared on the scene someone was required to walk in front of the car so the horses wouldn't be scared. Now we are cool with several tens of thousands of traffic deaths per year, no one thinks twice about it.
     
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  7. Why are you behaving as if these problems are unsolvable show-stoppers? Yes, it's hugely important that the danger of things like this be recognised, but the designers of autonomous vehicles treat problems like this as they would any other - they *solve* them.
     
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  8. My recommendation would be that legislation prescribes a driving test to any new automated vehicle model combined with software version. The driving test would be far more strict than a driving test for humans, because humans can deal with reacting to unexpected scenarios. Whenever a new test is released the vehicle model plus software version would have to be tested again to keep its license. Unit testing.

    I look forward to seeing these replace conventional cars in my life time. It will be a lot safer.
     
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  9. Trust me. This is the start of human driving being banned or society thinking it's useless and unsafe. It's also the start of the government being able to watch our every movement.

    That said, I wouldn't mind seeing some form of self driving in cities and human driving being allowed on quiet roads out of town.
     
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  10. OK, all of youwho think 'What could possibly go wrong?' Let's expand the discussion. Pilotless airliners? Do you have a problem being on a robotic- or radio-controlled airliner? How about being on a plain old airliner and ingesting a drone in an engine during takeoff or landing? Oh, the drone was not supposed to be in the airspace? Maybe the terrorist forgot or neglected to obey that law.
     
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  11. all the autonomous cars will do will be to give all those fat lazy people who facebook or twitter while driven more of a reason to do that whilst chowing down on their 2 litre coke and quadriple cheezeburger !!!
     
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  12. @WizardsLore, I believe it will be a generational thing. I don't text while driving, and I even try to avoid talking via hands free devices behind the wheel. I've seen the quality of driving on U.S. roads degrade steadily of the past 20 years, and I'll do all I can to stack the deck in my favor.

    That said, there's a segment of the population that sees texting as essential and driving as a tedious chore. Autonomous cars will become acceptable to the public when "they" outnumber "us."
     
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  13. @ Kurt, i saw the begining of the end on the weekend, a silly silly person had strapped their iPad (tablet) to their steering wheel and was facebooking while driving. its already begun. If you take a moment out of your day and notice people on the road you will find that every second car has someone either on phone (with the phone to their ear), text or facebooking....hardly safe driving. Until a universal law is passed that calls for immediate loss of license if found to be doing one of these things we will unfortunately also continue counting the road tolls too
     
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  14. @WizardsLore, it's bad in the U.S. as well. States that have cell phone laws for motorists rarely enforce them, and some states (Florida, where I live) don't even prohibit cell phone use while driving. Every once in a while a fatal accident will bring it to everyone's attention, but nothing ever changes.

    The irony is that if someone tried to kill me with a gun, they'd go to jail. When they accidentally try to kill me with their car, they rarely even get a ticket.
     
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  15. @ Kurt, problem is i wouldnt call that Irony. I would call that downright Stupidity. More people are killed by or in cars that by weapons. Seeing as a car is literally a weapon anyway there shoudl be similar rulings. The license people have is the authority to drive the car, the taxes and registration you pay means you can use the public road system. You break the law in this domain (i.e. a crash) then you shoudl be subject to rigourous repercushions. I was invoved in an accident where a motorcycle rider who was usign his Iphone overcooked his nike and ran up the back on me. nothing will happen but it should. Loss of license, charges and prosecution are all options.
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