Google plans to ask Congress to accelerate the future, a trip that it says will be made by cars—self-driving cars.
Congress has the ability to give the Department of Transportation the power to put self-driving cars on the road, and Chris Urmson, the head of Google’s self-driving cars program, is heading to the Capital to make Google’s case on Tuesday.
Many automakers have been investing in self-driving car technology, Reuters reports, but have been impeded by their ability to test them on real roads—California has even moved to ban them unless a licensed driver is supervising onboard.
Google’s self-driving car made headlines last month by crashing into a bus—the first time one of its cars was at fault. However, the car was going around 2 mph and neither the human supervisor or bus occupants were injured.
Meanwhile, as Business Insider has noted, the cars have been able to dodge streakers and people chasing ducks. Judging from the reports Google has issued detailing the crashes—only one of which has been Google’s fault—the technology is a lot safer than humans on the road.
One of the things Google hopes to influence is the safety laws that govern cars on the road. For example, cars must have steering wheels and mirrors, but since those things are for human inputs and outputs, they’re not necessary for a computer that uses radar and its electronic connection with the car.
California’s strict rules may have been a setback, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced that it would interpret “driver” in a more open way so as to include self-driving cars and accelerate their development.
While the safety issues seem pretty cut and dried given the Google car’s safety record, the matter of whether these cars would end up being a positive thing is still under debate, with environmental critics expressing worry that it may lead to increased driving and, in turn, more greenhouse emissions.