Sharing the stage with Google co-founder Sergey Brin and bill author State Sen. Alex Padilla, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law Tuesday allowing the testing of self-driving cars in California.
A Google Glass-wearing Brin — still not a great look — and Brown arrived at the Google campus via a self-driving prototype currently in development by the tech behemoth.
Google believes the future of cars don’t involve human drivers, and is putting up big piles of money to pioneer self-driving cars. With $43 billion in cash laying around, Google can afford to throw money at long-term dreams.
Though everyone believes generally available self-driving cars are still years away, the new law calls for a testing framework to be put in place by the DMV no later than January 2015.
Brin told the gathered audience the technology is actually closer than people may think:
“You can count on one hand the number of years before people will be able to experience this.”
Self-driving cars are expected to save fuel by reducing congestion and travel time. They are also expected to be safer, since cars don’t drink, fall asleep at the wheel, or do things they know they shouldn’t.
A reporter asked Brown and Brin about the legal liability of a driverless car. If a driverless car runs a red light, he asked, who gets the ticket?
Brown replied that laws will need to be changed, and details like that will be the “easiest part of this to work out.”
Brin’s even blunter response garnered the most enthusiastic response of the event from the audience:
“Self-driving cars do not run red lights.”