Sacramento Lawmakers Apply For First-Ever Permit To Test Driverless Cars

SACRAMENTO (KPIX 5) — Sacramento city leaders are speeding ahead with plans to make the streets a place for fully autonomous vehicle testing.

“We welcome new technologies that aren’t quite proven yet to be tested here,” said Ash Roughani.

Ash Roughani is heading the efforts within the Mayor’s office as part of the office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

He says self-driving vehicles can eliminate deadly crashes, better the environment, and add to people’s free time.

“We think they need to experience it to really appreciate and understand the value of an autonomous vehicle,” Roughani said.

Testing for semi-autonomous technology is already underway. People sit in the driver’s seat and can override the system. People like this idea.

According to a survey by Alix Partners, 90% of people said they wanted a partially autonomous vehicle. A Kelly Blue Book Survey found 80% of people would always want an option to drive themselves.

Roughani says fully autonomous is the only way to move forward.

“A lot of the challenges arise in a lot of these semi-autonomous situations.”

According to the California DMV, there have been 23 wrecks involving autonomous vehicles in our state since 2014. In nearly every case, human error was to blame.

Dan Sperling, the co-founder of the UC Davis Institute of Traffic Studies agrees that fully autonomous vehicles are a safer option.

“They don’t drink, they don’t take drugs, they don’t text. They’re going to be safer, no doubt about it,” said Sperling.

But he says people will have to rethink travel altogether in order for autonomous vehicles to work and ditch their personal car.

“We want people to be sharing that vehicle. Otherwise were just going to see a lot more vehicles, a lot more vehicle use,” he said.

Which Sperling says will just lead to more congestion and pollution.

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