Sacramento discusses self-driving car regulations

June 18, 2013 7:21:15 PM PDT
How safe will you feel on our highways when you look over at the car next to you and see nobody is driving? That's the question they're asking in Sacramento before the "Google car" and any other automated vehicle hit the road.

California's Department of Motor Vehicles is trying to catch up with technology. The agency has to come up with regulations addressing self-driving cars, like the one Google is developing.

"We need to take baby steps. We need to make sure these vehicles can operate safely," said Bernard Soriano from the DMV Autonomous Vehicle Project. "When these vehicles get into an accident, who's going to be liable?"

And the touchy subject of privacy has many concerned. The software used is recording information to make the driverless vehicles operate.

"What exactly is that information? Where is it being stored? Who has access to that information? How is it being used?" asked Soriano.

Silicon Valley companies, the car industry and the public have begun telling DMV what rules of the road they'd like to see. Techies are concerned about over-regulation stifling innovation while consumer groups worry about safety.

"Motorists in California are not guinea pigs," said Rosemary Shahan from Consumers for Auto Reliability & Safety. "We have a lot of computer technology in cars already and it doesn't always work right. There are often problems."

Rick Hodgkins, who relies on public transportation because he is blind, is excited about the prospect of autonomous cars being available for people like him.

"In general, it would just save me time," said Hodgkins.

Miranda: "So our little 8-year-old can't drive herself to school?"
Soriano: "No not right now. Maybe in the future."

By law, DMV has to have the regulations in place by the end of 2014.


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