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California Puts the Brakes on Google

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On: Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 10:49AM | By: Karen Cook

California Puts the Brakes on Google

Not long ago, Google presented the world with a completely autonomous vehicle that required no help from human beings to navigate to a specified destination. This is odd because there is no way for a “driver” to take over if the car can’t perform its function. You see, it doesn’t have pedals or a steering wheel. Google believes this is the future of self-driving modes of transportation.

California begs to differ. Even though Google is based in California, this is the first state to decide that maybe removing any means of control from the car isn’t the safest way to go. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles allows the testing of autonomous vehicles on its roadways, but has put the brakes on Google’s offering stating the potential hazard of the inability for a driver to assume control in an emergency.

Kudos to Google for having enough faith in its creation to remove control from anything but the car itself, but the new rules state that all self-driving vehicles must have a steering wheel, gas pedal, and brake which allow a driver to immediately take control if necessary. Google plans to add the equipment to the car so it can continue testing on public roads. California's DMV will still allow testing of the unmodified vehicle on private property, which Google also plans to do.

It seems a pretty big leap on Google’s part in view of the fact that consumers aren’t totally comfortable with autonomy in their cars yet. To build that confidence, drivers will want to know, in the beginning, their fate is not completely out of their control.

My take? Baby steps, Google. Baby steps.


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