California is following Nevada in taking steps to allow driverless autonomous cars to legally drive on its roads. It's not a done deal yet, but governor Jerry Brown has sent a bill to the legislature that, if passed, would allow driverless vehicles like Google's 'robot car' (check out the video below) to hit the road later this decade.
If signed by Brown, the legislation would shift technology being mastered at places like Google and Stanford from test courses to public roads. Since 99 percent of all traffic and fatal accidents are caused by some form of human error or imperfection, supporters envision a world of computer-controlled cars that would zip around quickly and safely.
Of course, if we want safety and the smallest environmental footprint, it's better to encourage walking, biking, and various types of transit (Bus Rapid Transit could be implemented relatively cheaply in many cities). But as long as there are cars on the road, anything that can make them safer and more efficient is welcome. Of course, it'll take a while before we have robot cars, if only because it'll take a while for people to trust them. But a lot of things that used to be left to people are now done automatically or semi-automatically with good results for safety and efficiency, so it wouldn't be surprising if it happened to some extent with cars too.