Driverless Cars 2With all the news about self-driving cars, don’t tell me I am the only one who has pictured the scene in I, Robot (starring Will Smith) where the autopilot cars become controlled by a hostile computer. Of course, technology and auto companies (the line between the two is starting to blur) assure us that will not happen. After all, humans will always be able to take back the controls.

But some very recent interaction between Google and state lawmakers in California makes me wonder if the time will come when “drivers” really are not in charge of the cars.  Many states, including California, are scrambling to establishing laws to regulate these automated cars, with parameters on what the companies can and cannot offer to the public. Of course, the companies and the lawmakers don’t agree on everything, and Google has strong objections to certain restrictions in California’s proposed legislation—specifically, requirements that the automated cars still come equipped with steering wheels, brakes, and gas pedals! Apparently, some other states, like Texas, for example, have no such silly requirement. So, just to make it perfectly clear, Google really is planning to produce and sell cars without steering wheels, gas pedals, or brakes. Google claims that the humans are far more likely to cause collisions than the automated cars (as cited in one of my previous articles, so why even give humans the option of grabbing the wheel?

In addition, it is clear that we do not have to await Will Smith’s future world to purchase these cars. At least 25 different companies are currently advancing this technology and trying to beat each other to the sales starting line. Many of these companies, including Google, claim that such vehicles can be ready as early as 2017–with many of the accident prevention technologies already being installed in new cars.

This Google vs. California debate is likely more about timing than ultimate result. As odd as it may sound to turn driving over to these technology-packed cars, it seems clear that doing so will make our roadways safer for all of us–eventually.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact Attorney Kevin Fine with Davis Miles McGuire Gardner at (480) 733-6800 or via email kfine@davismiles.com.