MOUNTAIN VIEW (CBS SF) – Online giant Google is teaming up with a California lawmaker to navigate the unchartered territory of driverless vehicles.

On Thursday, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), held a news conference in Sacramento with Google to announce the introduction of Senate Bill 1298, which would establish guidelines for “autonomous vehicles” to be tested and operated in California.

Google actually lobbied for the bill, as it continues to test autonomous cars on California roadways. The tech company first disclosed in last 2010 that it had developed – and was testing – such cars.

“This technology has the potential to make our cars and our roads safer,” reasoned Padilla, who is a mechanical engineering graduate from MIT. “There’s a compelling policy reason to want to embrace that and pursue that but ensure safe testing and operation of these vehicles.”

Padilla’s bill directs the California Highway Patrol to develop safety requirements for these robotic cars.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

According to safety experts, nearly all car accidents – 99%, according to some – are caused by human errors.

“This technology is the real deal, it’s just not a concept that’s maybe decades away,” Padilla said of Google’s test cars. “I think we’re going to see it and elements of it in our cars and on our roads sooner rather than later.”

California is following on the heels of Nevada, which earlier in 2012 became the first state in the country to unveil requirements for autonomous vehicles traveling on its public roadways.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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