Friday, September 28, 2012

California Allows Self-driving Cars

So on Sunday I got my first ticket in over a decade, for talking on my cell phone.  I know that it was a completely irresponsible act on my behalf and a well deserved infraction.  To the point that before the officer reached my window I had already admitted to him that he caught me red handed.  This will be one of those things that you chalk up to a pricey life lesson, very pricey.  I mention this less than flattering personal episode to highlight that no matter what the law says, we as human beings will always try to multi-task.  Whether it's using the time behind the wheel to catch up with loved ones, eating lunch at your desk while replying to emails, or chewing gum and walking at the same time, we just don't seem to be made to mono-task (just made that up).  Maybe it's just a survival trait from our caveman days that will remain ingrained.  If so, then Google is a step ahead in enabling that trait.

On Tuesday September 25th California Governor Jerry Brown paid a little visit, with pen in hand, to Google HQ and signed into legislation a law that will allow for the testing of self-driving cars on California roads.  That means that Google's fleet of autonomous vehicles have the green light to be stuck in traffic just like the rest of us.  But that doesn't mean that it's a dead end of sorts.  On the contrary.  The testing will pave the way for safer roads and safer automobiles by removing human error from the equation.  Which is, after all, the largest factor in any accident.  Not only is the idea to make driving safer, but also to enable transportation for the disabled, blind and let's not forget the intoxicated. 

This, of course, brings me back to my less than flattering admittance above and something that Google has in mind as well.  If our cars can drive themselves, than we are at liberty to use our commute time to our liking.  Soon you'll be able to let your car do the driving while you read a book, play a video game, get some work done, or even talk on your phone.  This, of course, won't be an option for about another decade so in the meantime I recommend a hands-free option and yes, I will be taking my own advice on that.  On a side note, when the officer asked for a phone number I could be reached at I gave him my cellphone number and warned him that if they called while I was driving that I would not answer.  At least I made him laugh, even though it didn't get me out of a ticket.  Also, I apologize for the puns in the second paragraph. 

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