Lexus RX450h test car equipped with Google's driverless technology. (Photo : Wiki Commons )
Google is known for trying to break the conventional mold more than a few times in the past, and they may be on the verge of successfully doing so again.
California unanimously passed a bill in favor of autonomous vehicle operation, making Google that much closer to releasing their self-driving car to customers all around the world. The battle isn't over in California yet however, the bill now needs to be approved by the State Assembly which should happen within the next month or so. California Senator Alex Padilla is an advocate for the invention and has publically supported the idea many times.
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"I envision a future that includes self-driving cars," said Padilla in a press conference. "Developing and deploying autonomous vehicles will not only save lives, it will create jobs. California is uniquely positioned to be the global leader in this field."
Google announced to the world in 2010 that they had been working on robotic cars and that the cars already had 140,000 miles of driving experience. Initially seven Toyota Priuses were designed to use laser range finders, cameras, radar, inertial sensors, and high-detail maps to drive the car while a human sits behind the wheel monitoring everything.
The Google self-driving car is already legal in Nevada, but those who have enough money to purchase one must use a red license plate to show that the driver of the vehicle is a robot. Nevada DMV guidelines state that a person must obtain an autonomous vehicle driver's license before being able to drive and own one. This is necessary mainly to make sure a driver knows what to do in case of a malfunction.
The car made headlines again when Steve Mahan purchased the first one sold in the United States in 2011. Google created and posted a video of Mahan, who is 95 percent blind, using the car with success. The video shows him do things such as picking up his dry cleaning and even going through a Taco Bell drive thru.
Only one accident has occurred involving a self-driving car so far, which took place when a self-driven car was hit by a car driven by a human close to Google headquarters.