Paving the way for self-driving cars to move beyond the experimental stage, the State Senate this week approved legislation to establish safety and performance standards for autonomous vehicles in California.
Autonomous vehicles, through the use of computers and sensors, can enhance safety by helping to avoid collisions caused by human error, according to Senator Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, the bill’s author and sponsor. “I envision a future that includes self-driving cars. Establishing safety standards for these vehicles is an essential step in that process,” he said in a statement.
According to Padilla’s office, Google, BMW, Audi and Volvo are all developing driver-less technologies aimed at greater safety, fuel efficiency and roadway capacity.
Padilla announced SB 1298 in March at a press conference on the steps of the State Capitol where he arrived in a Google autonomous vehicle.
California law does not currently address autonomous vehicle technology. SB 1298 would establish safety and performance standards, permit licensed drivers to operate driver-less vehicles and allow the California Highway Patrol system to recommend additional safety requirements to the Legislature, among other things.
SB 1298 passed the Senate on Monday by a vote of 37-0. The bill now goes to the Assembly for consideration.