TECHNOLOGY: Computer-controlled cars a step closer to becoming a reality in Calif.

State Assembly approves measure making technology possible

August 30, 2012

There could be a sudden surge in chauffeurs in California. By a 74-2 vote, the state’s Assembly approved legislation that will allow driver-less vehicles to operate on the road network. The measure is still awaiting approval from the Senate.

If passed and signed into law, the DMV would be responsible for coming up with standards for the computer-controlled cars by 2015. Automakers would then need to get their vehicles approved by the state, and drivers will be required to apply for some sort of “auto-pilot” license.

“It’s not far away that many of us will be driving autonomous vehicles,” Dan Gage, spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. “We’re moving in that direction. That fully autonomous car of the future is not that far away.”

Google and Stanford University have both toyed with the technology. Google claims its self-driven Toyota Prius drove a blind man to Taco Bell, while the Stanford Volkswagen has entered closed-course racing competitions.

Opponents of the technology, however, raise questions about road safety. The concern is the computers could “crash” resulting in an accident. Data compiled by the cars’ computers also could stir up the privacy debate once again.