Beverly Hills is creating its own fleet of self-driving cars

It wants on-demand autonomous vehicles to transport the rich and famous.

Jean-Pierre Lescourret via Getty Images

Picture the streets of Beverly Hills and you probably imagine seas of ultra-luxurious cars piloted by celebrities or their chauffeurs. However, you may have to get used to a new sight in the future: hordes of vehicles with no drivers at all. The city's council has voted to produce a fleet of self-driving cars that would provide on-demand shuttle service around town. The system would lean on a city-wide fiber optic network, already in the design stages, to keep these driverless rides talking to the neighborhood and each other. The first phase of the resolution would have Beverly Hills forming partnerships with autonomy-minded car brands like Google and Tesla, so this would be more of a collaboration than a from-scratch project.

There's no concrete timetable for the fleet, but Beverly Hills is potentially very well-suited to an experiment like this. The burg is both very small (just 5.7 square miles) and wealthy -- it can afford to blanket its entire area with self-driving service in a way that would be impractical for most any other metropolis, at least in the next few years. If Beverly Hills' plan works reasonably well, though, it could serve as a template for larger-scale autonomous driving efforts in other parts of the world.