Is A Driverless Car In Your Future?

A study committee composed of Georgia State Representatives is looking into the possibility. Chaired by Rep. Trey Kelley of Cedartown, the Autonomous Vehicle Study Committee met several times this fall, and is due to publish a report its findings by year-end.

Driverless cars are an intriguing idea — they would certainly take much of the pain out of the boring drive from Macon to Savannah. Before they can become a reality, though, lawmakers must consider what changes might be made to state law. Kelley’s committee is looking at things like who would be liable in case of an accident, whether the driverless cars could be hacked, and what data might be collected from a driverless vehicle. Even things like the current no-texting law, which could no longer be a factor if a computer were in control.

Walter Jones with the Morris News Service summarized some of the issues with driverless cars, and concluded that it could be a while before we see them on the road.

No company is going to be selling robot cars any time soon because years of experimentation is ahead. Some experts predict it could be another 25 years, comparing them to the 15-year development of hybrid vehicles.

Their introduction will be part of a gradual process as well. Cars are already available that signal drivers when to snap to attention. Others can automatically parallel park a car.

In the meantime, Georgia could become a leader in driver-less car research by following the few states that have opened the legal door to them, like Florida which passed a law allowing testing on designated roads, and Michigan which is creating a 5-mile test road simulating city streets, according to Tino Mantella, president of the Technology Association of Georgia.

“By opening Georgia roads to autonomous vehicle testing, it will begin jobs,” he said.

Autonomous vehicles may sound like science fiction, but states, cities and counties are lining up to promote research into whether they are feasible. Fayette County passed a resolution in July that would allow the county to be a pilot site for testing the vehicles. Others have gotten in line as well, according to the AJC.

[C]ompetition to attract investment from technology and automobile companies is growing as states realize driverless vehicle technology has the potential to become a multibillion-dollar industry. Johnson County, Iowa, passed a resolution similar to Fayette County’s on the same day as Fayette. And driverless vehicle testing has already been conducted in several states, including California, Nevada and Florida.

“I thought it was great we jumped out early and we were a leader,” [Fayette County Commission Chair Steve] Brown said. “The only problem is we’re not the leader anymore.”