Some of us see self-driving cars as a staple in the future however there’s a lot of ground to be covered before these vehicles are ready for the real world. There are technological challenges to overcome as well apart from the regulatory and legal hurdles that self-driving cars will surely face. The latest wrench in the works has been thrown by the state of California. The state’s DMV has told Google that its prototypes much have manual controls which allow test drivers to take “immediate physical control of the vehicle.”
If you don’t remember Google’s self-driving car prototype has no manual control. There are no pedals and no steering wheel, just a start and stop button, everything else is done by the brains in the car.
Since California’s regulations won’t allow vehicles without manual controls on public roads Google would either have to add controls or stick to closed-course testing. The company has over 100 prototype units that it aims to runs tests on, vehicles will be limited to 25mph and may follow behind human drivers.
Google has chosen the course of non-confrontation and instead of trying to battle regulations right now it has agreed to fitting temporary steering wheel and pedals in the prototype units. It may essentially be against its vision but changes in regulations seems a battle for another day. Road trials for Google’s self-driving cars are expected to begin next month.