California Taking the Lead on Driverless Cars?

VIPER —  June 12, 2012 — Leave a comment

Is the Sunshine State ready to meet George Jetson?

Some critics are calling “driverless cars” just a Jules Verne or “Jetsons”-like futuristic dream fantasy, but others are lauding the potential development as the biggest in automotive technology since the horse and buggy days.

“We may be at a historic cusp where driverless cars share the road,” Edmunds.com editor Carroll Lachnit told The Sacramento Bee. “The (technological) pieces are all there.”

The paper says California may be positioning itself to be a leader in self-driven cars, with MIT-trained state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, introducing a bill that would make it legal for driverless cars to use public roads. The bill says (for now) that a licensed human driver would have to be in the driver’s seat — and able to take the wheel at any time.

Nevada passed similar legislation last year.

Send in the Lawyers!

The real roadblocks on this crazy, driverless adventure are (of course!) legal ones.

Discovery News asked: “Who will pay if an autonomous vehicle causes a wreck — the human occupant or the company that built the software? And what about a future of driverless coupled with ‘drivered’ cars?”

You can quickly imagine the problems.

Many legal pundits and bloggers and crying out, “Dude, where’s your sanity?” and calling any thoughts of developments on the driverless front pure “fantasy.”

Plaintiff’s firm blog oreillylaw.com writes, ” just because the human imagination can conceive of new vehicles in which to travel doesn’t mean a particular vehicle can be created in practice. Or, as in the case of Google’s so-called driverless car, that it can be created to run safely anytime soon without causing too many car accidents.”

Maybe it’s just that no one knows who’s driving this bus …

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