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Enter car, buckle up, adjust seat, tune audio system and HANDS OFF THE STEERING WHEEL PLEASE.

autonomous carWhile self-driving cars may still be in the realm of science fiction, "autonomous" vehicles that give the driver an assist are hurtling around test tracks and even on public roads. An NCSL Legisbrief says the era of co-pilot cars may be closer than we think.

Proponents of these cars note that each year approximately 35,000 highway fatalities and 95 percent of automobile crashes are caused at least in part by driver error. Self-driving cars are designed to remove human error by recognizing objects, other cars and hazards, and choosing the best route to reach a destination. Many see the production of autonomous vehicles a possible economic boom for their state. Some are concerned whether these driverless vehicles operating on public roads could pose a danger to other motorists and pedestrians. Others are concerned about vehicle tracking and invasion of privacy.

An engineer who has been involved with designing autonomous cars for 20 years believes they can be not only safer but faster once certain technological hurdles are cleared.

More than a dozen states have considered, and four states—California, Florida, Michigan, Nevada—and the District of Columbia have enacted, legislation that paves the way for autonomous vehicles to become a reality.

Now if it could only order a venti non-fat half-caff latte with soy milk at the drive-through speaker ...

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.

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