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Driverless cars have endured California testing, but Florida, Nevada, Michigan, and possibly Texas can expect to see them as early as February 2015.

Google’s self-driving car project has had everyone wondering when they can expect the new technology on the road. A new report says that the self-driving cars will be opened to manufacturer testing on the road as soon as this Fall – specifically, around September 16th, as soon as the driving requirements take place. California’s DMV division adopted driverless car testing rules earlier this week.

So far, Google has been testing its autonomous cars, and the search engine giant hasn’t wracked up a single ticket on the unmanned vehicles (some accidents have occurred, but at the hands of human drivers). Other manufacturers who have had an interest in the technology, however, have been kept out of the project. Now, California has set its driverless car requirements into effect. As of September 16, 2014, manufacturers that test Google’s driverless cars must apply for an autonomous driving permit from the state of California after undergoing an autonomous driving course.

The need for a special course consists of the fact that, unlike traditional driving courses, autonomous vehicle drivers must know what to do in an emergency when taking over the vehicle and assuming driver control. Traditional vehicles, as you know, require driver control at all times. Driverless cars will test drivers’ reflexes and knowledge in the event that something goes wrong. Once a manufacturer applies for a permit, the individual that will sit behind the wheel must have basic knowledge of the technology, how it works, and must supply the make and model number of the vehicle subject to testing. In order to pay for accidents caused, the manufacturer in question must maintain a $5 million insurance policy that will provide financial support.

Last but not least, drivers can get points on their permit if they violate on-the-road traffic laws, but drivers can only remain in good standing if they have no more than one point on their autonomous driver permit for traffic violations. Seeing that Google has now added reminder, timer queries, and car rental bookings to Google Now’s voice command capabilities, the time spent in driverless cars has become even more useful.

Google’s home state, California, has been the first to see driverless cars come to its streets, but Nevada, Florida, and Michigan will see Google’s driverless cars tested on its streets sooner rather than later. Texas has also passed laws permitting driverless cars and provided driving rules, but the state mandates a human driver at the wheel at all times.

While driverless cars are one of Google’s finest projects, the Mountain View, California company has some other tech goodies in store for its Google Input/Output (or I/O) 2014 Conference next month from June 25-26. Android Wear, the company’s new wearables platform, its Project Tango seven-inch 3D tablets, and a new release of Android (perhaps Android 4.5 Lollipop) are expected announcements. Google looks to release 4,000 of its Project Tango tablets to its developers at that time.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Does it know that when a small round object comes flying out onto the street, a child might come running out moments later? Can it look for that child’s head through two car windows, or their feet from under a parked car, and realize what it is seeing?

    • Ace, thanks for writing in to Inferse.

      To answer your question, Google has said that it’s got to strengthen driverless cars’ capabilities against weather and other factors. With that said, I think that there’s still more testing to be done — which is why the cars are being sent to places outside of California. The emergency-reflex situations of human drivers are what driverless cars must master if they’re going to be mass produced. We could see them as early as 2017, but there’s still a three-year gap between now and then.

      While our sources tell us that Google’s cars have been efficient on the street, we’re seeing that Google’s gotta improve the interaction between driverless cars and human drivers on bikes and manual vehicles. This will take some time, and it’s likely that the car may still need more testing before it can register when a little child is in front of it. There are sensors on the tops of these vehicles, so there’s a possibility that the cars may “know” a child is in front of it. Still, we’ve not heard that Google’s mastered driverless car/human driver interaction yet, so it remains to be seen. I think this is why California’s DMV laws require that the human be in charge of taking over the vehicle at any time — for the sake of children and pedestrians who may become victims in a driverless car encounter.

      Thanks for writing in to Inferse. Please do come again.

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