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California gives the green light.  Is this the future?  No hands?

California Gov. Edmund G Brown Jr., front left, rides in a driverless car to a bill signing at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. The legislation will open the way for driverless cars in the state. Google, which has been developing autonomous car technology and lobbying for the legislation has a fleet of driverless cars that has logged more than 300,000 miles (482,780 kilometers) of self-driving on California roads. (AP)
California Gov. Edmund G Brown Jr., front left, rides in a driverless car to a bill signing at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. The legislation will open the way for driverless cars in the state. Google, which has been developing autonomous car technology and lobbying for the legislation has a fleet of driverless cars that has logged more than 300,000 miles (482,780 kilometers) of self-driving on California roads. (AP)

A green light in California this week for self-driving cars.  Not flooding the highways yet, no.  But on their way.  Cars where your hands are not on the wheel.  Your foot not on the brake.  Cars that will take you – one day, we’re told – where you want to go.  You snooze, they cruise… someday.

For now, it’s a mix of your eyes and theirs.  But everybody’s pushing for the whole enchilada.  Cadillac, Audi, BMW, Toyota, Google – yes, Google.  For some its sounds dreamy.  For some, unnerving.  And if they speed, or crash, who gets the ticket?

This hour, On Point:  here come the self-driving cars.
-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us).

Alberto Broggi, professor of computer engineering at the University of Parma

Bryant Walker Smith, a lecturer at Stanford Law School.

From Tom's Reading List

Newsday "The bill by Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla will establish safety and performance regulations to test and operate autonomous vehicles on state roads and highways."

Christian Science Monitor "Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Tuesday that will pave the way for driverless cars in California. Driverless cars use computers, sensors and other technology to operate independently, but allow humans to take control at any time."

BBC "The bill was signed at the headquarters of Google, which has been testing a fleet of 12 autonomous computer-controlled vehicles for several years."

Video

Check out this video about Google's self-driving car.

This program aired on September 27, 2012.

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