Baker forms working group to develop, test self-driving cars

Companies must get approval from MassDOT before testing automated vehicles

FILE - In this May 13, 2014 file photo, a Google self-driving car goes on a test drive near the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. Self-driving cars are expected to usher in a new era of mobility, safety and convenience. The problem, say transportation researchers, is that people will use them too much. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

BOSTON (WWLP) – Massachusetts is home to many world-class innovation companies. Governor Charlie Baker wants to take advantage of that by forming a working group to test automated cars in the Commonwealth.

Massachusetts could soon lead the nation in developing the next generation of transportation – automated vehicles. Governor Charlie Baker is forming a working group made up of state lawmakers, transportation officials and industry leaders to test self-driving cars on our roadways.

He said, “We’re in some ways a really good proving and testing ground for this type of thing because we are somewhat irregular and unusual with respect to our road design and all the rest.”

Companies must get approval from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation before they can begin testing self-driving cars alongside other cars on the road. They must submit an application proving that the vehicle has passed an Registry of Motor Vehicles inspection and can be operated without risk to public safety. At least one person has to be inside the self-driving car while it is traveling at all times.

The technology is getting better each year. Salem state Representative Paul Tucker told 22News it is going to be a while before self-driving cars replace traditional cars on the roadways.

“There’s nothing that can replace the human brain in terms of identifying and reacting and driving safely and looking – as of right now,” said Rep. Tucker (D-Salem).