Texas says 'howdy' to completely driverless robo-cars on its roads

King of the (autonomous) Hill


Texas will, from later this year, allow the entire Lone Star State to become a test bed for cars that can drive themselves with or without a human behind the wheel.

A newly enacted law, SB 2205, was signed off on Thursday by Governor Greg Abbott, and will go into effect on September 1.

Under the new rules, researchers can try out self-driving cars on public highways and roads throughout the state "without any intervention or supervision by a human operator."

Robo-ride developers will still have to show the autonomous vehicle is capable of complying with all state traffic laws and federal highway safety rules, and has a recording device present. Researchers will also need to show proof of insurance or liability coverage for the car.

In short, Texas is allowing autonomous cars to pass the same tests and requirements as human drivers, with the addition of a recording requirement. The law will supersede any city or county laws that would seek to place tighter restrictions.

The law gives Texas a leg up over rival states that are jockeying for the investments and jobs offered by the automotive and tech companies currently developing driverless car systems. With looser restrictions on where and when autonomous cars can operate without the hindrance of a human behind the wheel, researchers may be more apt to set up shop in Texas.

The Governor of Washington has begun the push for similar rules in his state, signing an executive order to open up the roads to human-free car testing. In issuing his executive order, Gov Jay Inslee displayed an extraordinary amount of confidence in the technology, calling it "foolproof."

Texas, along with its newly implemented lax rules, has geography on its side as well. The state's relatively flat landscape and massive tracts of unoccupied land give researchers huge stretches of sparsely occupied roads on which to run their cars. ®

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022