California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation on Tuesday that will allow self-driving cars to legally roam the byways of the Golden State.
The bill, which Brown signed at a ceremony at Google’s Mountain View, California headquarters, will allow autonomous vehicles to drive on California roads as long as a human operator is behind the wheel to take control if necessary. It will go into effect next year.
"Today we're looking at science fiction becoming tomorrow's reality — the self-driving car," Brown said. "Anyone who gets inside a car and finds out the car is driving will be a little skittish, but they'll get over it."
Google has been testing self-driving cars in California since 2010, accumulating over 300,000 accident-free miles in the process. Google’s fleet, which mostly consists of Prii, use cameras, lasers, radar and GPS to help them understand their surroundings and navigate safely.
Prior to the bill, self-driving cars had existed in a sort of legal limbo in California (as they still do in many other states) – they weren’t banned by law, but neither were they permitted. Nevada and Florida are the only other states with laws permitting autonomous vehicles.