The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Self-Driving Car Lobbyists Go on Tour

It may be years before self-driving cars are widely seen on our roads and highways, but much of the technology is already in place, and auto and tech companies like Google, Toyota and GM are hard at work perfecting their systems. But the technology will be useless if it’s illegal, which is why Google alone has already spent over $9 million this year on lobbying state capitals.

The Wall Street Journal profiles Google’s strategy:

In January 2011, Mr. Goldwater approached Ms. Dondero Loop and the Nevada assembly transportation committee about proposing a bill to direct the state’s department of motor vehicles to draft regulations around the self-driving vehicles.

“We’re not saying, ‘Put this on the road,’” he said he told the lawmakers. “We’re saying, ‘This is legitimate technology,’ and we’re letting the DMV test it and certify it.”

Following the Nevada bill’s passage, legislators from other states began showing interest in similar legislation. So Google repeated its original recipe and added an extra ingredient: giving lawmakers the chance to ride in one of its about a dozen self-driving cars.

Apart from Nevada, Google has scored victories in Florida and California. The future looks bright, but the road ahead is long and probably bumpier than self-driving car advocates hope.

Nevertheless, Via Meadia wonders: will self-driving cars hit the road before Governor Brown’s $100 billion high-speed rail experiment becomes operational?

Published on October 13, 2012 3:00 pm