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New Law Opens Up Hawaii For Driverless Vehicle Testing

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H-1 Freeway, eastbound toward Aina Haina.

Autonomous vehicles may soon be coming to Hawaii’s streets, but will still need a human operator for now.


Act 021, which Governor David Ige signed into law from House Bill 2590, paves the way for the eventual adoption of driverless cars. The measure authorizes the testing of autonomous vehicles on any public road in state, as long as a driver is present inside the vehicle.


The state Department of Transportation can now issue permits for companies interested in testing the technology in Hawaii.


Twenty-nine other states and the District of Columbia have already passed laws regulating driverless car technology in some form.


Major players in the auto industry like Daimler and Volvo are rushing to develop the technology, particularly in the form of commercial trucks.


All of Tesla’s new models are now equipped with an Autopilot system. It allows the car to accelerate, break, and even steer without human input; although the system has been involved in at least a dozen documented collisions, several of which were fatal.


Tech companies like Uber are also going all in on self-driving autos. The still unprofitable rideshare service has bet much of its future on being able to offer pickup-on-demand without the expense of a driver.


Google spinoff Waymo has been testing commercial trucks and passenger vehicles in the American Southwest for years.


The Sun Belt’s mostly clear skies and dry roads offer ideal conditions for developing the first generation of driverless vehicles, a factor that could also provide a boost for Hawaii.

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