Are Self-Driving Cars Legal?

June 23, 2014 12:00 PM

Are Self-Driving Cars Legal?
" The idea can be tempting: sit back, relax and let your car do the driving. The seemingly far-fetched concept has penetrated the realm of plausibility thanks largely to tech giant Google, which reports that it has been successfully testing a fleet of autonomous cars for years on public streets.

The self-driving cars are fitted with sensors that detect lanes, stoplights, traffic and other obstacles, and link that information with GPS data. Google and several automakers have retrofitted everyday cars with this technology; Google has reportedly racked up 700,000 miles on a fleet of about a dozen cars.

Google has sought out legal approval for its tests, which have been legal in Nevada since 2011. California, Florida and Michigan also now allow self-driving cars on the streets, and other states have sometimes offered one-time special permission to carry out demonstrations of the technology. Other testing is taking place legally in other countries.

The rules are strict, though, for the time being. Today’s autonomous cars must have all of the same manual controls as ordinary vehicles and a licensed alert driver who can take over from the computer at any time "

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