The state of Utah is looking to get ahead of the curve when it comes to self-driving vehicles, both in preparation of the technology going mainstream and in an effort to draw tech companies to the mountainous region.
In the next few weeks, the Utah State Legislature will meet and begin setting some of the rules of the road for self-driving cars and semis.
"It’s really going to change our lives. It’s going to change the way we move goods and services, it’s going to change the way we commute," said Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy.
As the Republican representative drafts legislation making room for autonomous vehicles, one of the rule changes up for debate is how to define a driver moving forward.
"Who is an operator? Right now, the assumption in state code is an operator is an individual like you or me. But in an autonomous world, that operator could be the machine," he said.
Spendlove believes updating driving laws to reflect changing technology might help convince tech companies to bring their operations to Utah:
He said those companies will also want to use Utah as a testing ground for self-driving vehicles because we offer something they can't get in Silicon Valley: mountain passes and winter.
"I was talking to Google over the summer and I said, 'OK, you’ve got an autonomous car, what happens if you have a snowstorm?' They said, 'Well, the car safely pulls over and waits until conditions improve.' But what if you’re at work?"