The California Department of Motor Vehicles has introduced a new road safety rule, where all vehicles need to be equipped with a steering wheel and pedals – including notorious Google’s self-driving car so that a human can have immediate physical control in case of severe software setback. The new rules will be effective from September 16, making Google’s self-driving cars no longer legal on Californian roads.
Google will now have to equip its fleet of cars with manual control before can be taken out on public roads in California.
According to reports in the Wall Street Journal, Google has made it certain that it will abide by the new ruling and shall install a “small, temporary steering wheel and pedal system”.
“With these additions, our safety drivers can test the self-driving features, while having the ability to take control of the vehicle if necessary," said Google spokeswoman Courtney Hohne.
Google unveiled its latest prototype driverless cars at the infamous Code Conference, and has plans to roll out vehicles by the end of this year. The new version is a completely new design that fits two people, and is driven using algorithms that work around on-board computers and sensors. Google’s prototype cars can detect objects up to more than two football-field lengths away in all directors and are programmed to exceed speed limits by up to 10 miles per hour.
The installation to comply with the rules, of course will bring significant changes in its design, and alter the much roomy space that was once reserved for the passengers in spite of its minuscule size due to the absence of steering column and pedal box.
Google is set to produce 100 of its prototype autonomous cars, which will be limited to 25mph. Tests will be made on private roads and are scheduled to begin next month before they are texted on public roads in the next two years. Bernard Soriano, Californian official, involved with drafting of the recent rules, said that when those public testing may begin in cars without steering wheels or pedals after certain relaxation of the rules.
Dimitri Dolgov, lead software engineer for the driverless car project, recently said during a test drive that it would be much safer for Google’s cars to accelerate in order to keep up with the surrounding vehicles that are speeding it.
It is still unclear, who would be liable to pay in for a speeding fine: Google? The Algorithm? or the Occupant?
Google still has a long way from now to make its ingenious cars go mainstream and that means tonnes of legislative and insurance related regulations to be resolved.