Automotive

California opens the door for backup-free autonomy

California opens the door for ...
Fully autonomous vehicles are inching closer as California opens the door to driverless testing
Fully autonomous vehicles are inching closer as California opens the door to driverless testing
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Fully autonomous vehicles are inching closer as California opens the door to driverless testing
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Fully autonomous vehicles are inching closer as California opens the door to driverless testing

The race is on to get autonomous cars on the roads. Manufacturers are taking pole position, but lawmakers are also on the grid, trying to balance the need for technology to progress with public safety. With this in mind, California has approved unmanned autonomous vehicle testing, allowing self-driving cars to roam the streets with no human backup behind the wheel.

Bill AB-1952 doesn't allow manufacturers to let their test vehicles loose on any old street in the Golden State. Instead, it applies to a pilot project being run by the Contra Costa Transport Authority, where shuttles will run workers around the San Ramon Bishop Ranch business park. The route they take also includes some time on public roads, however.

The approval also covers the GoMentum Station, a deserted test bed where brands like Honda and Otto are working on their systems.

Under the new rules, vehicles don't need a set of pedals or a steering wheel, but they will need to stay below 35 mph (56 km/h) as a safety measure.

Manufacturers will have to create a clear plan for how and where they'll be testing their cars, and the legislation demands insurance cover of US$5 million on test vehicles.

Source: California Legislative Information

3 comments
Charles Barnard
Unfortunately, the real-world benefits of automating traffic apply primarily to the easiest to automate--high speed divided highways. And this sort of testing is not supported by the California laws. Since the benefits of automation increase rapidly with the percentage of vehicles that are automated, it is vital that after-market automation be pushed forward..if we must wait for new vehicle automation to filter down, it will add at least a decade to the initial period in which only small benefits to the owners rather than the large benefits to the entire society will accrue. These benefits include: increased traffic throughput which reduces the need for new roads, locating and reporting roadway surface damage before it becomes dangerous--and avoiding such rough patches in the mean time, reducing roadway maintenance costs, and increasing traffic average speed.
ljaques
AFAIC, until we reach the Jetsons stage, _all_ vehicles should have a computer override and self-drive mode with pedals, mirrors, and a steering wheel. @Charles Barnard, your post is spot on.
voluntaryist
The marriage of technology and regulation, what could go wrong? What is the hidden assumption behind it? That would be the same belief that underlies all interference by politicians/bureaucrats with business in general, namely that businesspersons cannot be trusted and need to be controlled. And that is a corollary of the belief that control of all (authoritarianism) is necessary because some are destructive. The flaw in this? When power is concentrated, without accountability, who will protect us from our protectors?