California's autonomous car bill inches closer to reality

Autonomous car legislation SB 1298 passed the Senate Transportation Committee and is headed to the Senate Rules committee.

Google's autonomous cars have racked up many miles of testing on public roads.
Google's autonomous cars have racked up many miles of testing on public roads. Google

A bill that paves the way for autonomous cars to be driven on state roads cleared its first of many hurdles. California Senate Bill (SB) 1298 passed the Senate Transportation Committee yesterday on an 8 to 0 vote.

The bill, authored by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), will set up safety and performance standards for the safe operation of autonomous vehicles on California's public roads. The rules and regulations for robotic cars will be modeled after those already being used in Nevada.

Autonomous vehicles will be required to meet all applicable safety standards and performance requirements in state and federal law, and the California Highway Patrol will consult with the Department of Motor vehicles to recommend additional requirements. The new legislation will permit the operation of autonomous vehicles on California's public roads by a licensed driver.

Approval from the Senate Transportation Committee is the first of many steps on the path to the Governor's desk. Next, SB 1298 will move to the Senate Rules Committee for a possible referral to a second policy committee. Arizona, Hawaii, Florida, and Oklahoma are also currently considering autonomous vehicles legislation. Nevada began issuing permits to companies that want to test autonomous vehicles on state roads last month after they've documented 10,000 miles on private tracks or other roads under various conditions.

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