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California approves cars with no steering wheel, pedals for testing

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Tony Avelar/AP/File

(Read caption) Google's self-driving Lexus car drives along street during a demonstration at Google campus on in Mountain View, Calif.

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Self-driving cars inched closer to reality this week (all by themselves) when the California governor approved a bill that would open small sections of public roads for testing.

California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that would make available a section of a former naval weapons facility site and a business park to fully autonomous vehicle testing, according to The Mercury News.

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According to the newspaper, the new law only applies to a project spearheaded by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority at the Concord Naval Weapons Station, called GoMentum, and a business park in San Ramon, California. The business park route would include a stretch of road open to the public.

The law includes provisions to keep the self-driving cars under 35 mph and strict reporting requirements for any crashes in the cars.

Already, automakers such as Honda and the Uber-owned Otto are using the Concord site to test autonomous trucks. In 2014, Mercedes-Benz announced it would use the 2,100-acre site to develop its self-driving technology. Apple and Google are also reportedly interested in using the site for their self-driving cars (Google's version shown).

The law is unique because it would let automakers and tech companies test fully self-driving cars—Level 5—that wouldn't need human interaction. No steering wheel, brake or gas pedals would be in the vehicles.


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