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California jumps on driverless car bandwagon

Playing catch up to Nevada, California will introduce a bill that creates the framework for integrating autonomous cars on state roads.

Liane Yvkoff
Liane Yvkoff is a freelance writer who blogs about cars for CNET Car Tech. E-mail Liane.
Liane Yvkoff
2 min read

State lawmakers plan to introduce legislation today that will pave the way for autonomous cars to be driven and tested legally on California public roads, according to an article in The San Francisco Chronicle.

Not coincidentally, today marks the first day that companies can apply for a permit to test robotic vehicles openly on Nevada roads. The robotic car bill, sponsored by Senator Alex Padilla of Pacoima, Calif. would task the California Highway Patrol with developing rules and regulations for testing driverless cars on public roads by companies and, eventually, consumers.

California isn't alone in the race to play catch up to Nevada's futuristic transportation legislation. Other states, such as Oklahoma, Hawaii, and Florida, are also considering rules that will allow autonomous cars on state roads. California's proposed plan will be modeled after Nevada's regulations, which lets companies apply for a permit to test a vehicle after it has clocked 10,000 miles on private tracks or other roads under various conditions. While Google's self-driving Prius have traveled more than 200,000 miles on their own, they've never encountered snow, according to the article.

Heathrow Airport's autonomous cars (photos)

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Companies will also be required to have a minimum of two people in a self-driving vehicle and will publicly insure the cars with a $1 million to $3 million bond depending on the number of vehicles the company plans to test. With the nascent industry just starting testing, it's not clear when consumers will get their hands on this technology. However, General Motors has stated that the technology could be ready by 2020.