We don’t know whether the Champagne corks will be flying at Google when California’s Gov. Jerry Brown signs the bill to legalize autonomous cars which was almost unanimously approved by the legislature on Wednesday. But Google’s intense lobbying efforts which started in Nevada have paid off: Now the internet giant is a big step closer to introduce autonomous cars on its home turf.
California is almost perfect for the introduction of autonomous cars. It is large and diverse enough to allow testing in almost all environments. There are regions with almost optimal weather conditions such as Southern California (snow being very unlikely except in the mountains). This is where Google could launch their first commercial trials for car-sharing, taxi or truck/logistics services.
The second great asset of California is its hotbed of innovation and technology in Silicon Valley which Google is part of and which it profits from. But driverless technology could give another boost to the valley and lead to many new products and services based on autonomous technology. When driverless technology becomes the next big thing, Silicon Valley will be at the center.
Driverless cars are a golden opportunity for the ‘Golden State’. The legislature was right to ignore the objections from the auto industry (which is worried about their business model).