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Regulators slowing Google’s plans for self-driving cars for everyone

by Todd Haselton | November 16, 2015November 16, 2015 10:00 pm PDT

Google wants you and I riding around in its self-driving cars as soon as possible. To get there, though, it still needs the green light from state regulators, particularly those in California where it wants to open its cars up to the public first.

According to CBS, Google asked the California Department of Motor Vehicles to draft up a list of laws that Google needs to abide by for regular Joes to ride around in autonomous vehicles. The DMV was supposed to have that together by last January, but still hasn’t provided Google with the paperwork.

Part of the reason, it seems, is that this hasn’t been done before, and it’s not quite clear what needs to be brought to the table so that the government sets strict enough safety laws, but also so that Google can move forward.

There are many, many questions that still need answers, and even those answers need to be hashed out and approved by several parties, including regulators. Also, should something go wrong – who is to blame? The car? The driver? Google? The state?

“If the cars’ advanced sensors and computing power can drive better than humans, do they need a steering wheel and pedals? Would a person even need to be inside? Google says no on both,” CBS said. A Google engineer also chimed in on the situation: “The worst thing would be for California, sort of the birth state of this technology, to accidentally sort of shut things down.”

While regulators might be slow to granting approval for everyone to cruise in the cars, Google has moved ahead with its own tests. The company has 73 cars on the roads, CBS said, and while we know there have been accidents, Google says the cars haven’t been at fault. Regulators who spoke with CBS suggested that, while Google wants people in its cars sooner than later, moving slowly may be the more prudent approach.


Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...