SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Driving into the capital city without a driver. Wednesday, the city of Sacramento officially announced its plan to test out self-driving cars that will be controlled remotely in the Bay Area. It could make the capital city the first ever city in the state to allow this type of technology on public streets.
From the city’s standpoint, it’s a no-brainer and a way to prove itself as a technology hub and to increase mobility, but the remote control car service has some saying not so fast.
Self-driving cars will soon be seen on Sacramento streets, but a backup driver won’t be inside. Instead, it’ll be someone ready to take control more than 100 miles away.
Sacramento Mayor Darrel Steinberg said, “This is our future and we’re going to grab it.”
The city is partnering with Phantom Auto, a Silicon Valley company, specializing in safety technology for autonomous cars.
Co-founder Elliot Katz said, “We can keep a human in the loop so that that human can safely drive through the situation and do things like the autonomous vehicle can’t.”
The pilot program will roll onto city streets in August, first mapping out wireless networks that are used to power the self-driving cars. The testing will span two sections of Sacramento. One is a 2-mile loop downtown from P street to I Street with pickup stops at the State Capitol, convention center and city hall. The other route will be at Sacramento State University and will travel from College Town Drive to the University/65th Light Rail Station.
“I think it will be kind of cool,” said Sacramento State University student Joey Muscarella.
There will also be pickup points at the state Capitol, convention center and city hall. An area Sallee Whitaker travels through daily.
“I don’t think that’s going to work. The accidents have already happened that we know about,” said Whitaker.
In March, both an Uber and Tesla self-driving car were involved in deadly collisions. While some are wary to share the roads with the up and coming technology, Jim Brown, Executive Director with Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, says it could limit accidents by eliminating human error.
“Potentially it could make bicycling safer,” said Brown, “It matters to me that the testing accounts for how autonomous vehicles interact with people on bike or on foot.”
The city, along with some other stakeholders including Sacramento State University and Regional Transit have put $100,000 toward the project. The autonomous cars could start showing up in Sacramento this fall.