Remember Maximum Overdrive, the movie written by Stephen King, supplied with music by AC/DC, and starring the coach of the Mighty Ducks? If you don’t, it’s about a demonic, self-driving truck that wants to kill everyone. After watching it, you’ll probably never want to sit in an automated vehicle when they become available.
That 26-year-old cinematic masterpiece was ahead of its time, though. Self-driving cars are coming, and now they’re far more likely to find a highway near you than what you may have thought. Signed into California law this week, Governor Jerry Brown outlined safety standards for autonomous vehicles that he and chief proponent Google believe can make roads safer for everyone.
“California is at the forefront of technology. Developing and deploying autonomous vehicles will save lines and create jobs. California is uniquely positioned to be a gloabal leader in this field,” said Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) in a statement.
Under the legislation of Senate Bill 1298, operators of automated cars will still have to have licenses. The California Department of Motor Vehicles will also have a new set of standards for testing and governing licensing procedures for those with driverless cars. With this legislation, it also opens the floodgates to other states adopting similar laws as Google and automakers begin branching out with self-driving vehicles.
With the new technology, Google says it’ll help blind, disabled, elderly, and intoxicated drivers get around more safely. It will also help reduce congestion and make drivers who disdain the chores of driving at ease. While we’re fans of the pastime, if there are people who don’t enjoy driving, we’d rather they not be in control of steel boxes on wheels hurling down roads.
Google says it has logged more than 300,000 testing miles without a single reported accident—significant progress over the automated cars from automakers like General Motors, Ford, and BMW. And that’s perhaps why the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers came out against the bill when it was signed.
“Unfortunately this legislation lacks any provision protecting an automaker whose car is converted to an autonomous operation vehicle without the consent or even knowledge of that auto manufacturer,” it said in a statement.
While in theory any car should be able to be converted, Google wants to partner with major automakers to offer its technology. That’ll also save some liability headaches with a litany of litigation surely follows, as it does in the U.S. with any new technology.
When talking to Mercedes-Benz reps earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, we were told self-driving technology would likely find its way into the 2030 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. If Google has its way, we could easily see that bumped up a decade.