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Driverless cars … in N.J.? Assembly panel considers legislation authorizing tests

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Google is among some of the high-profile companies currently developing driverless car technology.
Google is among some of the high-profile companies currently developing driverless car technology.

By Andrew George | Email | Twitter

You may not have thought of the possibility, but the legislators in Trenton have.

The Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee took testimony today on a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union) that would authorize the state Motor Vehicle Commission to issue a driver's license endorsement for autonomous vehicles and establish regulations for their operation.

Google is among some of the high-profile companies currently developing the technology.

Testifying before the panel today, Quijano said the bill was for "testing purposes," noting that in states such as California and Nevada, testing is already underway.

But what's applicable in other states doesn't always work for New Jersey, she said.

"New Jersey is unique and I really believe we should test it here in our state," Quijano said.

Quijano also talked up the safety benefits of autonomous vehicles, noting that they significantly reduce the threat of human error on the roadway.

But Scott Mackey, of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, testified today that as it stands currently, the bill is premature. He said that prospect of driverless cars on the road is still about 10 years away.

"We don't really think this is necessary at this time," Mackey testified.

Mackey said if each state puts forward its own regulations for autonomous cars, it makes it very difficult for manufacturers to produce vehicles for the wider market.

"It would be best if there was a broader approach," Mackey said.

No formal action was taken on the bill and it's unclear when the committee will next hold discussions on it.

 
 

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Andrew George

Andrew George

Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com and he is @AndrGeorge on Twitter.

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