Honda is going straight LA on getting California DMV approval to start testing its self-driving car. Fashionably late to an ever increasing pool of companies to tackle hands-free driving.

Google has already logged 1.8 million miles in its testing while Lexus, Audi, VW, Mercedes and Nissan have had CA DMV approval for some time now. I’m not sure this is a party you want to be late on Honda, but we are inching close to the day of autonomous cars.

It could be a case of waiting to get approval until the company was ready to hit the ground running. Last summer, it showed off a prototype Acura RLX complete with all the features and sensors a self-driving car requires.

The display was impressive, but the company has been radio silent on its plans until now. Get ready CA streets, another driverless car is coming to a road near you.

Automatic Braking Pledge

Self-driving cars won’t be a sudden leap. Instead, expect a series of features that eventually lead to the giant step of autonomous cars. On Friday, ten automakers pledged to put automatic braking systems on all their new cars.

The system uses onboard sensors to detect objects in a car’s path and automatically apply the brakes. No, this is not something you test in your driveway. You still have to pay attention and put your phone down while driving.

Who are the ten? Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo made the pledge to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA). In addition to the NHTSA, the automakers also made the same pledge to the Insurance Institute for Auto Safety (IIAS).

I wonder if switching to automatic braking systems will save me 15%?

The pledge isn’t without criticism. Consumer groups have pounced on the promise, saying it does not go far enough. Groups like the Center for Auto Safety want federal mandates for the braking systems over promises from automakers.

There is also the concern that most automatic braking systems are only available on luxury cars, putting it out of reach of the normal consumer.

According to the AP, if the automatic braking systems become an industry standard, it “could prevent or mitigate an estimated 80 percent of the auto and commercial truck rear-end collisions that cause about 1,700 deaths and a half million injuries annually, according to a recent report by the National Transportation Safety Board.”

Those numbers make it hard to argue against a federal mandate. Yes, the word regulation typically creates a kneejerk reaction of the ‘big government telling us what to do.’ True, but seatbelts are a federal mandate. Any takers on complaining about the seatbelt rule? I didn’t think so.

Self-Driving Cars

Honda’s approval means the company can take to the road outside of the closed tracks and begin testing in real-world conditions. The company can move to CA state roads and join the ranks of other automakers rushing to make cars safer first, and eventually driving themselves.

I prefer the self-driving car over the flying car. Can you imagine your neighbor flying his car down your neighborhood? Let’s keep folks grounded. It’s bad enough we text and drive.

We can just let the automaker take the wheel and get us where we are going. I want a memory foam mattress in my self-driving Honda. Make it an extension of my bedroom and my laziness will be complete.

Sound off in the comments. Are self-driving cars the way of the future? Or, are we looking at a ton of safety features, but in the end we still have to sit behind the wheel?

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