Google drives in driverless cars


12 Jan 2012
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Google drives in driverless cars

PHOENIX: A California state senator plans to arrive at a press conference at the Sacramento capitol in a Google Inc-modified Toyota Prius that drives itself.

The announcement of new legislation by Senator Alex Padilla, written with Google's input, is timed to coincide with new regulations allowing the world's first autonomous vehicles to be road-tested and registered in neighboring Nevada.

The bill reflects Mountain View, California-based Google's latest push to show policymakers that while the cars of the future aren't ready for public use yet, it's time for laws to accommodate them.

The bill offered by Padilla, a Pacoima Democrat, would direct the California Highway Patrol to develop regulations like Nevada's for testing the self-driving vehicles on the state's roadways and for their future operation by consumers. Such rules provide "a clearer path" in developing the technology, said Jay Nancarrow, a Google spokesman.

"It is about creating the right kind of framework for the next step, should we move beyond the testing phase," Nancarrow said. Lawmakers in Hawaii, Oklahoma, Florida and Arizona have also introduced bills to follow Nevada's lead.

The laws may "provide that boost and regulatory certainty that companies need to develop their products," said Gary Marchant, director of the Center for the Study of Law, Science and Innovation at Arizona State University (18532MF) in Tempe. Most states don't specifically prohibit or permit autonomous vehicles, he said.

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