It seems the idea of having the Google car on the roads by next year is a little far from becoming a reality.
According to the Department of Transportation (DoT), having a car that lacks a steering wheel and has no pedals on the road is not close as there are significant restraints that the manufacturers of these devices will come up against. In fact, DoT feels that having a self-driving Google car that looks and feels more like the traditional car is the best chance this tech giant can get with respect to regulatory and legal barriers.
What this means is that the feds are not yet ready to take in self-driving cars, something that is a huge blow in the face of Google with respect to its mission to have its cars on the roads in a few years’ time. Unfortunately, this report by DoT doesn’t affect Google only, but also, any other company working on self-driving cars. For it to have a chance, the manufacturer must consider shipping the car with standard manual controls, including the steering wheel and pedals.
In traditional circumstances, a vehicle should have a steering wheel, foot pedals and things like rear visibility. However, the current Google car setup brings something different where people are not facing forward as usual. Thus, regulators have to find ways to deal with this, but at the moment, the federal motor vehicle safety standards are still a stumbling block.
As more and more companies start taking this Google car lane, it is time DoT and the NHTSA started working hard to catch up with this technology. In fact, DoT Secretary Anthony Foxx directed his department to come up with operational guidelines with respect to self-driving cars within six months. Hopefully, this time-frame will be enough for the agency to help take away the threats that are slowing down the growth of autonomous cars.
Numerous companies, including Google, are currently making use of some of these rules in their testing routines. However, most rules still decline the idea of having fully automated cars on the roads, with states like Nevada and California still insisting that the Google car must have a steering wheel and brake pedals. In addition, the states want the cars to carry a licensed driver who can take control of the car at any given time in case the technology fails or an emergency occurs.
For Google, the only thing it has to do is prove that the self-driving technology inside the car is perfect than humans.