"Today we're looking at science fiction becoming tomorrow's reality; the self-driving car," said California Gov. Jerry Brown just before he signed a bill into law that will allow Google to test its newest creation on public roads in his state.
Google lobbied for the bill in order to work on their self-driving technology, which can detect speed, direction, distance, weather conditions, traffic and road signals and signs. In a Prius equipped with these features, Google demonstrated that even the director of a local center for the blind could pilot a vehicle down a city street without running into anything or breaking any laws.
The technology is intended to ease traffic congestion and make driving safer. Google predicts that the technology could be ready for purchase within five years. A similar car is being developed by Volvo as well.
However, not everyone is keen on the self-driving car. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers opposed the bill and the concept of a self-driving car due to concerns about liability, and Consumer Watchdog debated the bill because of worries over privacy.
Google acknowledges their system is not yet perfect, but hopes that the bill will help them to address the concerns raised by critics.
1. What does it mean to "lobby" a bill?
2. Is driving too dangerous? If so, what would you do to improve the safety of driving today?
1. Do you think this is a good idea? Why or why not?
2. How do you think self-driving cars would change the driving experience?
3. Would you like to have a self-driving car? Why or why not?