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California lawmakers act to pave way for driverless cars

 

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State lawmakers took a step Monday toward allowing self-driving cars on California roads.

The Senate approved legislation that would have the California Highway Patrol develop standards and performance requirements for "autonomous" vehicles to be licensed for testing and operation on public roads.

Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) introduced the measure, which now goes to the Assembly for consideration, after Google and other firms developed cars that can drive themselves.

"This technology is coming and the potential benefit is coming, not just safer cars," Padilla said. He said the driverless cars can improve traffic flow and fuel efficiency.

Some carmakers have raised concerns about being sued if their automobiles are converted with driverless technology and then crash. But Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) said he was willing to move the bill forward after he rode in a driverless car recently.

"I had to say there are some issues still with it, but it’s a better driver than I am," Lowenthal said.

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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo:  Google executives pose with a Toyota Prius self-driving car last year. Credit: Google

 
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