The self-driving car is not too far from becoming the standard sight on our highways and although Google’s self-driving car prototypes have been designed with basic controls, it appears as though that isn’t enough for some people.
The state of California is throwing the proverbial ‘wrench’ in the works by demanding the 100 pod cars have a fail-safe mechanism that will allow users to take over from the automated control. The intention of Google was to give the prototypes a start button and a stop button, but the California DMV has given the tech giant an ultimatum on the grounds of safety.
A new set of testing rules for autonomous vehicles implemented by the California Department of Motor Vehicles is causing issues. The question is, what capacity for control should passengers inside an automated car, have? The requirements read, “The autonomous vehicle test driver is either in immediate physical control of the vehicle or is actively monitoring the vehicle’s operations and capable of taking over immediate physical control.” Another demand included that the test driver be “an employee, contractor or designee” of Google!
Google was given the decision to either shelve plans to put the driverless pod-cars on public roads, or change them to equip the vehicles with more traditional car controls, such as its previous prototypes. A spokesperson told the WSJ that as a result, Google is fitting a small, temporary wheel to the cars for steering, as well as pedals.
The new autonomous cars will be limited to 25mph, although Google has plans to allow them to follow human drivers and go up to 10mph over the speed limit. Under the DMV’s new rules, some of the possibilities the company showed in its initial launch video for the prototype cars will not be allowed. For example, a blind passenger would be unable to satisfactorily take over from the vehicle’s autonomous system.
Apparently, Google has previously asked the California DMV to think about other types of self-driving vehicle, but was turned down. The road trials of the Google pods start next month, although Google is yet to confirm exactly where they will be deployed and who will be allowed to ride in them.
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[Image via forbes]