Self-driving Cars For California, Sooner Rather Than Later

Our Autmologist MAC is not a Luddite but he is a petrolhead, so he brings us this piece of news quite reluctantly! 

The powers to be seem intent on the introduction of driverless cars or, more accurately, cars that can behave in an autonomous manner. Whilst this technology is not yet with us, it would seem that the technology’s long and windy road to market just got a lot shorter. A public roll-out is still not imminent for before the car companies unleash the future upon us, a whole swag of testing is required, and this means that it will become more common to see the technology being tested on roads where you or I may be driving, particularly if you live in California.

John Krafcik of Waymo. 

I just hope that future cars look better than that!

The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles has released proposed changes to the rules that will set out new guidelines on how these cars can be tested in the trendsetting state and, also as importantly, how companies will be able to introduce self-driving vehicles that can be used by mere mortals, such as the general public.

Much of the world’s drive towards autonomous cars is centred in Silicon Valley, which just happens to be in California. So, it is not so surprising that the state’s legislature has moved to ensure that they can remain at the forefront of the next wave of human transportation. Companies such as Alphabet Inc., Waymo LLC and Cruise Automation are amongst 42 companies that are already testing on public roads, and have been since 2014. What is new is that previously there had to be a driver to take control, you know, just in case. But now, the vehicles can be fully autonomous and that is pretty much a first for public roads.

If you find it a bit scary that there will be a car in front or beside or behind you that does not have a driver actually in control, then you are not alone. The fact is, though, that the thought of a two-tonne metal contraption speeding down the highway in a rainstorm relying just on human judgement should be a scarier scenario. We have allowed a lot of the technology to slowly permeate into our current rides, anyway, with such things as ABS and Lane Assist and automatic headlights and windscreen wipers. The future is already here, and I am not sure I like it.


Image credit: Geoff Robins | Getty via MIT Technology Review

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