SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It’s a futuristic idea that’s fast approaching. Self-driving autonomous cars are an early focus of the Darrell Steinberg administration. Sacramento city leaders have applied for a first ever permit to allow testing of driverless vehicles on city streets.
The application with the U.S. Department of Transportation will designate approved cities as “proving grounds” for autonomous vehicle companies to experiment.
“They’re inevitable. They’re going to happen sometime in the future,” said Ash Roughani, a Bureaucracy Hacker within the Mayor’s office.
“We welcome new technologies that aren’t quite proven yet to be tested here,” Roughani continued.
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,” said Roughani.
Testing for semi-autonomous technology is already underway. People sit in the driver’s seat and can override the system and surveys show 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,” said Roughani.
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.
“They don’t drink they don’t take drugs, they don’t text. They’re going to be safer, no doubt about it,” said Dan Sperling, the co-founder of the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies. He agrees that fully autonomous vehicles are a safer option.
But he cautions that people will have to rethink travel all together in order for autonomous vehicles to work. He says people will have to ditch their personal car and be willing to ride with others.
“We want people to be sharing that vehicle,” said Sperling, “otherwise were just going to see a lot more vehicles, a lot more vehicle use.”
Which Sperling says can lead to more congestion and pollution.
If Sacramento’s application to the Department of Transportation is approved in January, self-driving cars could be seen on the streets by January 2018, but Roughani says the infrastructure to implement fully autonomous vehicles likely won’t be ready in time.