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Governor visits Google, signs bill to OK driverless cars

Original post made on Sep 25, 2012

Gov. Jerry Brown arrived at Google today to sign a bill to allow the testing of driverless cars on California's roads. And how did he get there? The governor rolled into the Mountain View campus alongside Google co-founder Sergey Brin in one of the company's self-driving vehicles.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 25, 2012, 1:47 PM

Comments (21)

Posted by Word, a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 25, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Since technology is solving the vehcile problem I guess drive-thrus are back in...or at least one would hope that the environomentalist will take note rather than force everyone onto bicycles.

Posted by gcoladon, a resident of Slater
on Sep 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm

gcoladon is a registered user.

I love the spirit of undaunted innovation that is so vibrantly alive at Google.

Posted by juniperk, a resident of Jackson Park
on Sep 25, 2012 at 4:31 pm

I can't wait for the day when we have pilot-less and flight-attendant less planes. LOL

Posted by Kent Brockman, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 25, 2012 at 4:40 pm

I for one welcome our new self-driving overlords.

Posted by Is this new?, a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 25, 2012 at 4:44 pm

What has changed? I thought that they've been driving these cars around for a few years in California. Does this just legalize what was a grey area?

Posted by kman, a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 25, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Will everyone be clambering when this carless driver hits a pedestrian?

Does this bill mean no one will be sued, for responsibility?

Posted by kman, a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 25, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Whoops, meant driverless car up above, you know what i mean.

Posted by member, a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 25, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Drivers need to drive cars not electronics or robots. All funding for smart roads and driverless cars is a waste. A license to drive means a commitment to pay attention behind the wheel and in complete control of your vehicle at all times. Electronics can't compare to the human brain in depth perception and situational awareness so why fund something that will never be as good as a human is?

Posted by Safe Driver, a resident of The Crossings
on Sep 26, 2012 at 11:32 am

Considering the capabilities of the divers I've seen in this area, a driver-less car would be a safety improvement!

Posted by Nikonbob, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2012 at 3:02 pm

@member -- there are actually a lot of potential benefits, i.e. accident avoidance, speed control, best route selection, fuel economy, just to name a few. It's progress. The future is unavoidable and investing in new technology that has the potential to greatly improve such a basic necessity as travel is far from a waste of money.

Posted by K, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 26, 2012 at 3:14 pm

If the driverless car is speeding then who gets the ticket? The manufacturer or the person NOT driving the car? Also, if the car hits another car, who is liable? And since the person is NOT driving does this mean that people don't need to have a driver's license to operate the vehicle?

Posted by Mountain View Mom, a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 26, 2012 at 3:14 pm

This is my neighborhood. Does this mean MY insurance premiums could go up, just because I live in Googles neighborhood, where the majority of their cars will be driven?

I can't wait until one rear ends me. Cha-ching!!!! I highly doubt the Gov's signature is going to cover all the loopholes me and my insurance company is going to find when setteling the bill!

Posted by Darin, a resident of another community
on Sep 26, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Re: "A license to drive means a commitment to pay attention behind the wheel and in complete control of your vehicle at all times."

And yet there are plenty of human drivers who are not paying attention, who are not in complete control.

Re: "Electronics can't compare to the human brain in depth perception and situational awareness so why fund something that will never be as good as a human is?"

Let's assume that today's computer systems can't compare to the human brain in depth perception and situational awareness. How long will this remain true?

"Listen, I don't want to boast but I do happen to be national champion in Scotland. It just isn't conceivable that you can design a program strong enough to beat players like me." (David Levy, 1969)

"Today, chess programs have become so good that even grandmasters sometimes struggle to understand the logic behind some of their moves." (Ken Rogoff, 2010)

Computer drivers are not limited to using light in the visible spectrum. They are not limited to mere stereo vision. And they are not distracted by phone calls, text messages, spilled coffee, attractive joggers, arguments with spouses, or hearing a favorite song.

Check out the information about the DARPA Urban Challenge. The accomplishments of those teams were impressive, and that was almost 5 years ago.

But the real challenge won't be technical. As "kman" asked, what happens when a computer driver hits a pedestrian? Even if computer drivers avoid 99% of the accidents human drivers would be involved in, the lawsuits from that 1% could bankrupt the companies that make them.

Posted by bingo!, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 27, 2012 at 10:12 pm

kman & darin, you are correct.
Once the technology is mature, regulations and standards will need to be developed for their use on public roads (won't be piecemeal legislation at the state level). There will be a BIG push to automate interstate trucking and such... becomes a federal issue. At that point, I think we need to look toward aviation for examples of how this will be handled. There will need to be a system or systems dedicated specifically to safety critical aspects of operation (e.g. pedestrian avoidance or collision avoidance)... the collision avoidance system for aircraft (TCAS) was developed over years and when all was said and done, guess who is responsible if the core logic in the TCAS system is responsible for an accident? We are! The U.S. government is legally responsible for the core logic in aircraft collision avoidance systems. Why? Because without the government ownership of the logic, no manufacturer would produce the systems. Sooooo... all the competing manufacturers get together, agree on standards to ensure safety, substantiate the safety improvements automated cars will bring, then make the case to the feds that it is in the public interest for government ownership of the core logic to make production of automated vehicles a viable product.

Posted by Curtis, a resident of another community
on Sep 28, 2012 at 9:42 am

To the person who said a driverless car will never be as safe as a human... use your brain. There have been only TWO accidents involving driverless cars, which have went over 140,000 on US roads. One of these accidents occurred when the car was in manual mode, and the other occurred when someone rear ended the driverless car. Human error is responsible for 93% of all accidents... removing this can remove 5.5 million car crashes a year.

And unfortunately many people dont take this 'commitment' that you speak of seriously, otherwise driver distraction would never cause accidents. Please use your brain from now on.

And people, the car won't get tickets. They will obviously be programmed to follow the law. You people are killing me.

Posted by nikobob, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 28, 2012 at 2:26 pm

@Curtis...welcome to the Town Square -- home of the narrow minded and short sided - for the most part. It used to drive me crazy, but I've come to get a good chuckle out of the residents cranks on here, when I do bother to read.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 28, 2012 at 2:48 pm

In the perfect world, electronics never fail. In the perfect world, driverless cars will never crash. Until we discover this paradise, welcome back to earth. There won't be an adequate substitute for a skilled motor vehicle operator for a long time. It's just disgusting that the DMV will issue a license no matter how great the level of incompetence.

Posted by member, a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 1, 2012 at 9:57 am

Some good feedbacks to my post, thanks. I am well aware of DARPA's challenge. Portions were broadcast on TV some time ago and it only confirms that driverless cars are not ready. The other posts mention accidents & liability, etc which is all true but they miss one other thing, driving is fun to many. It not just a chore to get from A to B but a pleasure to do so for some. A driverless car can never replace that satisfaction ever.

Posted by Darin, a resident of another community
on Oct 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Re: "It not just a chore to get from A to B but a pleasure to do so for some."

Frankly, I don't see how that is relevant. If you enjoy driving, then drive. But what does that have to do with the development of self-driving vehicles for those who just want to get from A to B?

Posted by member, a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 2, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Good question Darin. let's say traffic is flowing at 80mph on 280N like it does frequently. Will the driverless car be programmed to move with traffic or only go 65mph? if the latter then it becomes a road hazard for others whose cars are being controlled by humans, not to mention the legal issues already raised by others. My point it that driverless cars will be hazardous not only to those who enjoy driving but those also just going from A to B.
I am not a Luddite, R&D money is better spent in other areas especially if tax money is used. In the case of vehicles, getting high strength carbon fiber to be more economical has tremendous advantages to increase vehicle efficiency and strength.

Posted by Darin, a resident of another community
on Oct 2, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Okay, let's say traffic is flowing at 80mph on 280N, and a human driver like me is cruising at the 65mph speed limit. An attentive human driver will stay to the right, allowing faster traffic to pass on the left. A computer driver can be programmed to do the same thing. (Frankly, I think a lot of the other computer-human interactions that the developers have addressed are more challenging than this one.)

Or perhaps by the time computer drivers reach production use, the speed limit laws will be adjusted to reflect the better safety record of computer drivers. (And yes, I think computer drivers will have a better safety record than human drivers by the time they reach production use.)

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