Self-Driving Cars Will Hit California's Roads in September

Illustration for article titled Self-Driving Cars Will Hit Californias Roads in September

On September 16th, 2014, California will take one step closer to the utopian (or dystopian) future, allowing self-driving cars on public roads. And the state's new autonomous vehicle regulations should help prevent the murder-bot anarchy that opponents are worried about.

The rules approved by the California Department of Motor Vehicles came after a series of draft proposals and a period of public comment. Considering how futuristic autonomous cars sound, the rules are rather conservative. Manufacturers wishing to test autonomous vehicles must apply for a permit, provide a minimum of $5 million in insurance, and have a human driver behind the wheel of any autonomous vehicle that hits the public roads.

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And that driver isn't just some bub off the sidewalk: anyone sliding behind the wheel of a self-driving car must carry an Autonomous Vehicle Testing Program Test Vehicle Operator Permit, obtained after an advanced defensive driver training program. And if an autonomous vehicle test driver has to disengage the self-driving system for any reason during a test drive, the DMV gets alerted.

That's actually pretty reassuring. As we figure out how to incorporate self-driving cars of the future into today's traffic, we'll need both real-world testing and robust failsafes. California's statewide laws will let both small and large companies in the autonomous car race get important real-world data behind their proposed systems. And heck, maybe a few efficiency-minded robodrivers will ever-so-slightly pare down Los Angeles' legendary traffic jams. [California DMV via Ars Technica]

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DISCUSSION

I think most people don't even know how great the self-driving car future can be.

Imagine the highways and roads where all cars move at the same speed and you don't have traffic tie ups. You technically wouldn't need stop lights anymore as cars can pace at the needed speed to keep all cars moving.

Imagine not having to park your car. It drops you off at home and drives off somewhere to park. And comes back when you need it. (For city living of course.)

Or not having to park your car at events you attend. Car goes off and parks itself after dropping you off. Then you just summon it when it's time to leave.

Making car pooling something you don't even have to think about. You get in and it just goes, no more monotony.

Imagine a road trip where the whole family can enjoy the trip?

Need an oil change? Your car will just go get it done.

Need to pick up the kids afterschool, after practice? Send your car to do it for you. Car will notify you when it has done so.

If the cars become safe enough, probably don't even have to wear seatbelts anymore, or sit facing forward.

Speed limits would be a thing of the past, cars would go at the speed of all of the other cars. Hopefully this would be at good speeds on highways so that we're not getting everywhere slower.

Cars would not what lane to get into at the right time in order to take their exit, unlike drivers now that cause people to brake or other issues when they exit at the last second.

Road signs on highways could be a thing of the past, beautifying areas that also don't allow billboards.

Having an RV could really mean living on the road. Not having to worry about driving that thing from point to point would be tremendous for people that choose to live that way.

No more truck drivers or bus drivers. I imagine these unions are going to be the ones fighting self-driving technology, and it will be sad.

We have a long way to go for this, and I may never see it all in my lifetime.

Just think of the day when there are people that haven't learned how to drive.