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Driverless cars bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown

September 25, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed a bill that paves the way for driverless cars in California.

Nearly 50 years to the day after "The Jetsons" debuted on ABC flying around in driverless cars, Brown pulled up to Google's headquarters in a car without a driver.

"Today we're looking at science fiction becoming tomorrow's reality," said Brown.

The bill, authored by state Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles, allows self-driving cars on California streets by 2015.

"We can save lives, we can create jobs, and ease congestion and reduce emissions," said Padilla.

The federal government is already sponsoring a field test in Ann Arbor, Mich., with cars that automatically swerve past accidents and alert you to oncoming hazards.

"We can foresee the day when vehicles will be able to completely avoid collisions," said Don Butler, vice president of marketing for Cadillac.

One prototype called SuperCruise uses radar, cameras and GPS to drive itself. If needed, the driver can take back control at any time. General Motors is testing on this track and says a version could be ready for market by 2015.

On YouTube, Google posted video of their first self-car driver. You can see him at a drive thru and getting his dry cleaning. The thing is, he can't see you. Steve Mahan is blind.

"Where this would change my life is give me the independence and the flexibility to go where I need to go," Mahan said.

Google's co-founder, Sergey Brin, envisions these cars also revolutionizing modern day parking lots.

"You can have a car drop you off here to work. Get out, walk through a little bit of green space, and it goes off and takes somebody else somewhere else," said Brin.

Some people said they're concerned about crashes and technological issues.

"Liability is a major issue. Who do you blame when a driverless car runs into somebody or kills somebody?" said Adam Roberts of San Gabriel.

"What if the car drives me into the cliff or something? That's what I'm worried about," said Richard Cherry of Bel Air.

Others said riding in a driverless car would be convenient.

"I'm always doing stuff in the car, whether it's changing or putting makeup on. That would really help if my car could just do the driving itself," said Mita Son of West Los Angeles.


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