Renegade Editor’s Note: I remember watching movies like Total Recall (1990) in my youth and thinking that driverless cars would only be possible in the distant future, and yet now we have Arnold’s state leading the way in this brave new world.
By Aaron Kesel
California known as the sunny state is eyeing a ban on sales of fossil-fuel cars in hopes of reducing carbon emissions as they seed the deeper agenda to eventually ban humans from driving as we switch to an autonomous lifestyle.
California Gov. Jerry Brown has reportedly “expressed an interest” in the restrictions, according to Bloomberg, which cited California Air Resources Board (CARB) chair, Mary Nichols.
“I’ve gotten messages from the Governor asking, ‘Why haven’t we done something already?’” Nichols told the news agency. “The Governor has certainly indicated an interest in why China can do this and not California.”
The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 requires the state to have a sharp reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 in an effort to return to 1990 levels in three years, and drop 80 percent lower by 2050.
To reach these “ambitious” goals, “we have to pretty much replace all combustion with some form of renewable energy,” Nichols told Bloomberg. “We’re looking at that as a method of moving this discussion forward.”
But deep beneath banning internal combustion engines is the ulterior eventual agenda of banning human beings from driving at all, as Yahoo UK proposed last year, because “driverless cars make roads safer by eliminating human error.”
“While humans can become distracted behind the wheel and drive drunk or tired, autonomous cars lack this ability,” the publication wrote. “Long term, these vehicles will drive better than any human possibly can,’” Danny Shapiro, senior director of automotive at Nvidia Corp told Bloomberg, noting that this technology has “superhuman intelligence.” “We’re not there yet, but we will get there sooner than we believe.”
The main problems besides humans keeping driverless cars off the road is actually federal laws and infrastructure, but that soon may change.
The U.S. government has released policy proposals on driverless cars, meaning that both industry and policy are shifting gear to prepare for the future to remove you from the road.
Two similar bills one by the Senate and one by the House would allow automakers each to operate more self-driving cars per year on U.S. roads if the measures are signed into law. The key difference between the pieces of legislation is that the Senate wants to slowly increase the number of driverless cars on the roads, while the House bill proposes to just put 100,000 self-driving vehicles on the road and hope for the best.
A top Senate Democrat told Politico that “there are a number of differences” between the Senate’s draft and what the House just passed.
The Senate’s self-driving bill would also allow the Secretary of Transportation to grant exemptions to federal motor vehicle rules that require cars to have human operators. Initially, 50,000 cars per automaker could be operated by companies if they can prove they meet existing safety standards. After a year, the number of exemptions per manufacturer would increase to 75,000, and would eventually increase up to 100,000 in the third year.
The House’s bill titled the SELF DRIVE Act (Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research In-Vehicle Evolution) would allow for a speedier deployment of self-driving cars on America’s streets. The SELF DRIVE Act recently passed unanimously earlier this month with overwhelming bipartisan support, Wired reported.
Now the Senate has to pass its own bill. Then both branches will work together to come up with a compromised piece of legislation that will eventually end up on president Donald Trump’s desk to allow driverless cars in all 50 states.
Both versions of legislation prohibit states and other local jurisdictions from adopting regulations related to cars’ design, construction, software or communication. And instead, give that power to regulate the vehicles to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA.)
States would still have authority over vehicle registration, safety inspections, insurance and licensing, under the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV.)
Automakers would be able to apply for exemptions to operate more than 100,000 self-driving cars after five years under the landmark legislation. The current limit for such exemptions to federal auto standards is 2,500 cars for two years at a time.
The Senate held a hearing on September 13 on the deployment of self-driving trucks, Reuters reported.
The final version of the Senate’s drafted bill amended the legislation and removed driverless trucks, Detroit News reported.
“Legislation like the bill introduced today will allow manufacturers to conduct more testing and to safely deploy self-driving vehicles to realize the safety, mobility, congestion, environmental, land-use and other benefits of this transformative technology,” General Motors Co. said in a statement earlier this month.
Twenty-two states have either passed legislation related to autonomous vehicles or adopted regulations through a governor’s executive order. Those include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia, according to USA Today.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. and Canada advocates for autonomous vehicles are preparing the final puzzle piece to replace humans the infrastructure and have proposed a shift toward ‘driver-free zones,’ starting by banning human drivers from car-pool lanes on a 150-mile stretch of Interstate 5 between Seattle and Vancouver.
Other consumer advocate groups are worried about the potential risks involved with exempting so many autonomous vehicles from safety standards. The California-based advocate group Consumer Watchdog said in a statement that “The autonomous vehicle bill just passed by the House leaves a wild west without adequate safety protections for consumers.”
We may soon see human driving outlawed in congested city centers like London, on college campuses and at airports, Kristin Schondorf, executive director of automotive transportation at consultant EY told Auto News.
“In city centers, you don’t even want non-automated vehicles; they would just ruin the whole point of why you have a smart city,” Schondorf, a former engineer at Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said. “It makes it a dumb city.”
John Krafcik, head of Google’s self-driving car project, echoed her sentiment stating in an August interview with Bloomberg Businessweek that the tech giant is developing cars without steering wheels and gas or brake pedals adding “we need to take the human out of the loop.”
Ford CEO Mark Fields also feels the same way stating Ford would begin selling robot taxis without any steering wheel or gas and brake pedals by 2021, TechCrunch reported.