Brown stops by Google to sign bill to OK driverless cars

(David Louie/ABC7)
September 25, 2012 8:45:47 PM PDT
The car of the future is one step closer to reality in California. It's a car that drives itself. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Tuesday that could dramatically change how we use freeways and even parking lots.

When traffic gets bad -- and it happens a lot -- have you ever wished you could turn over the driving to someone else? Engineers at Google and Stanford have been working on that, but it would be computers and a suite of high tech navigation that would be in command of self-driving cars. California is set to make it happen.

This new breed of car appears destined for California roads in just a few years. Google has been testing a fleet of Prius hybrids that drive themselves by using a combination of sensors, radar and GPS satellite navigation.

Brown arrived at the Googleplex in one of the self-driving cars and said he was impressed.

"Today we're looking at science fiction becoming tomorrow's reality -- the self driving car," he said.

Brown was there to sign a bill authored by state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima that will set regulations for making them street legal.

"We can save lives; we can create jobs and ease congestion and reduce emissions," he said. "Such a dream bill, whether you're an engineer or a politician."

About 40,000 Americans are killed yearly in auto accidents. Engineers are convinced self-driving cars will reduce those numbers.

Jobs will be created to develop the navigation sensors and other technology.

Freeways will be less congested because computers will allow cars to travel safely nearly bumper-to-bumper.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin also foresees reduced need for massive parking lots.

"What I see in this project is the potential to really transform our urban and suburban centers and not need that much parking," he said. "You can have a car drop you off here to work, get out , walk through a little green space, and it goes off the takes somebody else somewhere else."

Brin was wearing experimental goggles Google has been developing that allow people to take video or photos without using a smartphone.

Major automakers are already working on driverless car technology, sharing the vision engineers at Google and Stanford have embraced. Self-driving cars could expand the market, some day empowering the vision impaired and the disabled to share the road.

The bill signed by Brown gives the DMV three years to come up with safety and performance regulations to allow self-driving cars to hit the street.


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