The Google X geniuses are heading back to the drawing board in the case of their self-driving car. The California Department of Motor Vehicles has ruled that steering and pedal control are needed in case of software issues, accidents, or some other emergency. Originally, Google’s vision for their self-driving unit was no human control whatsoever. But, with this technology being so new and the infrastructure not in place, it makes sense that the California DMV would make a ruling in this direction.
Dmitri Dolgov, the lead software engineer of this project, admitted that their technology was not perfect, and the cars had the habit of sometimes going over the speed limit. He explained this by stating the driverless cars had the ability to go 10 mph over the speed limit, as opposed to sticking to it to keep up with traffic. Dolgov’s reasoning behind the cars’ ability to exceed the speed limit was to keep up with the traffic, when it is speeding and avoid road rage or cause obstructions in the road.
Days after Dolgov’s statement, the DMV in the state of California ruled that drivers must be able to take control over their vehicle, just in case an emergency or accident occurs. As a result of this ruling, Google will be forced to add manual controls to their fleet of driverless cars. Google must now achieve this addition before the cars can be taken out onto public highways and roads.
September 16th is the effective date for these new rules, and any self-driving car that does not have the required equipment will be illegal. While this will certainly put a bit of a wrench into Google’s plans, I don’t think this will deter them or anyone else from pursuing self-driving cars. It’s a matter of opinion on how fast this technology will progress, but sometime in the future we’re sure to see this as the norm. Maybe then we’ll actually have vehicles with no human control, though I am sure there will be opponents then as well.