WIRED, 11 MARCH 2017, FEAT. PROF. BRYANT WALKER SMITH:
IF YOU LIVE in California, chances are you’ve spotted a self-driving car—some 271 companies are testing tech in the Golden State, and they’ve running around all over the place. But those sightings are never quite as futuristic as they could be. These cars aren’t really driverless, and they’re not for public use. State law requires a trained human sit behind the wheel, and restricts the technology to testing only.
Now, Silicon Valley’s home state is ready to toss the bag of flesh and bones and replace it with a big sack of cash. The California Department of Motor Vehicles today proposed new regulations that will finally prepare for the move from testing to commercialization. That’ll make for even better photo ops if you see one, and eventually some interesting ride-sharing experiences—definitely no unwanted chit chat if a robocar picks you up.
California’s got good reason to welcome this tech. Some 3,000 people die on its roads every year, and self-driving cars could eliminate the human error that causes 90 percent of crashes. They could make more people more mobile, reduce emissions (maybe), and boost the economy.