New York State could pave the way for self-driving cars.
Assemblyman David Gantt, chair of the transportation committee, has introduced a bill (read it here) that would allow the testing and operation of autonomous vehicles.
There are some compelling reasons to support self-driving cars. Regular cars are inefficient: the average commuter spends 250 hours a year behind the wheel. They are dangerous. Car crashes are a leading cause of death for Americans ages 4 to 34 and cost some $300 billion a year. Google and other supporters believe that self-driving cars can make driving more efficient and safer by eliminating distracted driving and other human error. Google’s self-driving cars have cameras on the top to look around them and computers to do the driving. Their safety record is impressive so far.
That is a reasonable concern. If we are going to have self-driving cars, the technical specifications should be quite precise….
How involved — and how careful — are we going to expect the human co-pilot to be? As a Stanford Law School report asks, “Must the ‘drivers’ remain vigilant, their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road? If not, what are they allowed to do inside or outside, the vehicle?” Can the human in the car drink?
Gantt’s bill calls for a study period in New York. The commissioner of motor vehicles would propose laws and regulations to the governor by February 2015. The bill was introduced a couple weeks ago and is still in committee.
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