California may be falling behind in many ways, but the state took a major step forward when Governor Jerry Brown signed a law officially legalized the use of self-driving cars in the Golden State earlier this week.While self-driving cars have never actually been illegal, Google and other developers have pushed for measures like this so that any progress would be uninhibited by, say, confused police officers. This is a major win for the industry, especially due the open wording of the law and California’s size and influence over the rest of the country. The New York Times reports:
Google has been heavily lobbying lawmakers in California and elsewhere to support the cars. The California law gives Google and the people riding in the cars more freedom than other laws legalizing them. Nevada’s law requires, for example, that the cars have a certain number of hours on the road and special license plates, while California’s has few restrictions. The California bill indicated that lawmakers would add regulations later.
This decision, of course, is overshadowed by California’s other transportation project: the $68 billion train that it can’t afford and doesn’t need. But once these new cars hit the road, the train will become more irrelevant than it already is. For a fraction of the cost to the state, self-driving cars offer the speed and flexibility of a train commute for a fraction of the cost, and unlike a train, it can take you wherever you want, whenever you want it.