Somewhere deep down inside, all of us like some sort of control on things which happen around us. No wonder free falling isn’t an enjoyable activity for many. Being driven in a car which is possessed and has no steering wheel or pedals might be Google’s idea of relieving stress associated with city driving, but has given California’s Department of Motor Vehicles the jitters.
Google unveiled a self driving car which has no steering wheel or pedals to brake and accelerate. However, the internet giant’s goal of an autonomous vehicle is now clashing with the new testing rules from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
The rules state that a driver should be able to take “immediate physical control” of a vehicle on public roads if needed. Which means, the car will now have to be exorcised with a steering wheel, brake and accelerator pedals.
Google is free to test its fully autonomous prototype on private roads, or try to test the vehicle on public roads outside California. However, the company plans to comply with the California rule by developing a small, temporary steering wheel and pedal system that drivers can use during testing.
“With these additions, our safety drivers can test the self-driving features, while having the ability to take control of the vehicle if necessary,” Google spokeswoman Courtney Hohne said.
Ron Medford, director of safety for Google’s car project, asked the California DMV earlier this year to allow other types of autonomous vehicles, such as motorcycles and trucks, to be tested, which was declined by the state.
Google is making about 100 of its prototype autonomous cars and caps their speed at 25 mph, to make them easier to handle and limit damage if there’s an accident. Testing on private roads is due to start next month and will include the temporary manual controls.
The company hopes it can put ordinary Californians in autonomous cars for test runs on public roads in a couple of years. State officials are drafting rules for those tests, which will allow cars without steering wheels or pedals, Soriano said. He further added that the autonomous car could be deployed as a taxi or even for courier service.