Self-Driving Vehicles Keep Getting Closer to Reality

Foley & Lardner LLP

Multiple developments recently demonstrate that self-driving vehicles continue their steady march to potential world domination. First, there was Apple meeting the application requirements for autonomous vehicle testing in California. As reported in USA Today, this gave Apple “the green light to test self-driving cars in Calif.” Among the more interesting nuggets in this story is that there are now 30 – thirty! – companies who have obtained Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permits in California. The list is precisely the mix of automotive, technology and supporting companies one would expect.

The competition for where companies may test autonomous vehicles also heated up this week. New York passed a budget waiving a law prohibiting driverless vehicles. New York law, dating back to 1971, required drivers to keep one hand (or prosthetic) on the steering wheel at all times. Despite the urging of the Upstate Transportation Association to extend the ban on self-driving cars for the next 50 years, New York decided to open up its roads to self-driving and self-parking cars.

Back on the West Coast this week, California decided that if vehicles will be self-driving, why not go all the way. They did this by “opening the door for testing on the streets of truly driverless cars without a backup driver.” That is, no wheel, no pedal, and no human (though, what good might a human be with no wheel or pedal, but, we digress). If that happens, passengers will not even have to worry about ripping out their Johnny Cab driver to take control.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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