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WDAY: The News Leader

Published September 28, 2012, 04:57 PM

Driverless cars are now legalized in California

(WDAY TV) -- Can you imagine sitting in the driver's seat and never having to touch the wheel, brake, or gas? Well driver-less cars can now cruise California's highways.

By: Kay Cooley, WDAY

(WDAY TV) -- Can you imagine sitting in the driver's seat and never having to touch the wheel, brake, or gas? Well driver-less cars can now cruise California's highways.

California's governor signed legislation to test and operate autonomous vehicles on state roads, but North Dakota lawmakers say this new technology may never hit the pavement here.

To some it seems like science fiction.

Hutson: "It is pretty futuristic. It kind of reminds you of the Jetsons."

But for drivers in California, it's reality. A new autonomous car is touching down on state streets, using computers and sensors to take the wheel.

Hill: "I think it'd be good for long distance driving because a lot of people fall asleep at the wheel anyway."

California lawmakers have given the green light, and so have Nevada's, but legislators in North Dakota aren't yet convinced.

Carlson: "It's good to be last in things once in a while. That will be one of the last things we'll have on our radar screen."

One main concern, safety, for an already dangerous driving problem statewide.

Carlson: "First of all, such wide open spaces, a lot of rural roads. I'm not so sure. We have icy conditions, we have all kinds of things. You still have to sit behind the wheel of the car."

Hutson: "It'd be really interesting to see how quickly it could respond compared to the reaction time of a human."

And although the new tech craze is states and laws down the road, people here say if it does come, they may take a test drive.

Hill: "If it's safe and if they've done the tests for it, then I think yeah, let's do it."

Hutson: "As an owner of a Toyota, if it ever became affordable, it's a possibility."

But for now, they can only dream of the future.

Carmakers like Toyota, GM, Audi, and BMW are just a few of those testing self-driving vehicles. They say an autopilot feature could be available in as soon as five years.

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