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New California Law Allows Test of Autonomous Shuttle With No Driver (fortune.com) 36

If you live in California, you may soon start to see self-driving cars on the road with no operators to be seen. California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on Thursday a bill that allows a self-driving vehicle with no operator inside to test on a public road. Currently, companies are legally able to test self-driving cars in California as long as the operators are located inside the vehicles when they are being tested. Fortune reports: The bill introduced by Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla allows testing in Contra Costa County northeast of San Francisco of the first full-autonomous vehicle without a steering wheel, brakes, accelerator or operator. New legislation was necessary because although driverless vehicles can be tested on private land like the office park, the shuttle will cross a public road on its loop through the campus. The new law means that two cube-like Easymile shuttles that travel no faster than 25 mph (40 kph) will be tested for a period of up to six months before being deployed and used by people. In an interview with Reuters in March, Bonilla said the "natural tension" between regulators concerned about safety and lawmakers trying to encourage innovation in their state necessitated a new bill. "They're risk averse and we're saying we need to open the door here and take steps (to innovate)," Bonilla said, calling the driverless shuttle project "a very wise first out-of-the-gate opportunity" to show how the technology could work safely.
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New California Law Allows Test of Autonomous Shuttle With No Driver

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  • What about liability both civil and criminal?

    • by swalve ( 1980968 )
      In the first place, driverless cars are already an order of magnitude safer than human driven ones, and in the second place, the liability rests where it always has: whoever owns the thing is liable for its behavior unless they can prove different.
    • What about liability both civil and criminal?

      What about it? We already have autonomous vehicles moving vertically (elevators), and existing liability laws seem to work for that. So why would horizontal movement be different?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Not a great analogy - for elevators, the owner of the roadway (shaft) is the owner of the vehicle (car), and that same owner controls all of the on-ramps (doors). And there's a very limited (usually one) number of cars per road.

        All of this means the liability situation for vertical movement is a lot easier to figure out ...

  • missed 2, otherwise it would have been 6
  • "first full-autonomous vehicle without a steering wheel, brakes, accelerator or operator" So I'm rather sure it has brakes.. Maybe not a brake pedal. It has brakes, ill bet $100 on it!
  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Friday September 30, 2016 @09:55PM (#52992789)
    If some hacker somewhere inserts a virus, or otherwise gains control of my car, and my car gets into an accident, who is liable? Me, cuz I didn't keep my car fully patched? The car maker, cuz they didn't make patches available? The software vendor, cuz they had buggy software?

    My guess is the lawyers will go after whomever has the deepest pockets that they think they can force to a settlement, liability be damned.
    • My guess is the lawyers will go after whomever has the deepest pockets that they think they can force to a settlement, liability be damned.

      In a perfect world people wouldn't be dirt bags so this wouldn't happen. In our world i would guarantee you're 100% correct.

      • My guess is the lawyers will go after whomever has the deepest pockets that they think they can force to a settlement, liability be damned.

        In a perfect world people wouldn't be dirt bags so this wouldn't happen. In our world i would guarantee you're 100% correct.

        They're not necessarily dirtbags for doing so. Those with the deepest pockets also have the greatest ability to prevent accidents. If you have the ability to prevent an accident, you're more responsible for preventing one.

    • by Yosho ( 135835 ) on Friday September 30, 2016 @10:18PM (#52992851)

      If somebody in your back seat reaches forward, grabs the steering wheel, and forces you to get into an accident, who is liable? You, because you didn't stop them? The car maker, because they didn't prevent anybody but the driver from grabbing the steering wheel?

      The hacker is obviously the liable party.

      • You've never been involved in a court case, have you? Doesn't matter who is responsible, what matters is who has money. The lawyers figure you'll decide it's better to give them half of what you've got as opposed to fighting until you're out of money, then when you fight they settle for nothing because you're broke, they get paid, and their client gets bupkis cuz your broke.

        Trust me, I've been involved in our legal system a few times (president of a homeowners board, and a shitty neighbor when I bought
        • by Yosho ( 135835 )

          If that's your attitude about it, why are you even bothering to ask who's liable? How would an autonomous vehicle be any different from a manual one?

  • and see google bubble cars and lexus wagon vehicles from google everyday. i drive between palo alto and santa clara on central everyday and that's where they're testing these things. i'm always tempted to get close to one to see how it reacts. i'm sure the safety measures are dialed up pretty high.

  • In Concord to be precise and this kind of shiznit scares the crap out of me. Gonna try me a Methuselah's children dodge-em game soon.

  • I'd rather walk than sit down in some automated deathtrap like that. It's a horror show on wheels. Do not want.

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