Texas explicitly allows driverless car tests

Self-driving cars have been

roaming Texas streets

for a while. Believe it or not, though, there hasn’t been legislation that directly permits

autonomous vehicles

– there just wasn’t a law banning them. The situation is clearer after this week, though. State governor Greg Abbott has


a bill that explicitly allows

driverless vehicles

as long as they meet certain (fairly logical) conditions.

All self-driving cars have to obey existing

traffic laws

and carry


. They also have to record video, and the manufacturer has to accept liability as long as the self-driving tech remains unmodified. These aren’t exactly radical departures (many

autonomous cars

already have cameras, for one thing), but they establish a baseline. Critics are worried they’re too lenient, however. There’s no clear requirement that a human operator should be inside, and groups like


want a higher minimum insurance coverage than you’d see with conventional cars.

Even so, the new law is important. While it’s not going to change minds at


and other companies that were already inclined to test in Texas, it could encourage others to set up shop if they were previously skittish. And testing in Texas is particularly important – numerous tech giants have offices in the state (particularly in the Austin area), and its warm climate makes it a good testing ground for vehicles that might not be ready to handle snowy roads.

This article, by Jon Fingas, originally appeared on Engadget, your guide to this connected life.

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