California has just joined Nevada and Florida among the states that now allow autonomous vehicles to drive on the states' roads.
Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law today at Google's Mountain View headquarters that requires the state's DMV to create regulations for autonomous vehicles by January 1, 2015. While the cars may operate without humans, a licensed driver will nonetheless be required to be behind the steering wheel, in case something goes wrong.
Nevada and Florida both approved similar laws earlier in the year.
State Senator Alex Padilla sponsored the law, which hopes to keep California at the front of the development of autonomous vehicles. Google alone has a fleet of autonomous Toyota Priuses and Lexus RX crossovers that have logged more than 300,000 miles. Stanford has also worked with Volkswagen and Audi on autonomous technology the past few years.
Even more automakers, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Volvo, and Cadillac, are working on varying forms of driver assistance systems, by which the automated system takes control of the car in certain situations.
What remains to be seen is how warmly the public will embrace the idea of handing over control of their cars to, well, their cars.
Photo: YouTube screen shot