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Here’s why you’re not behind the wheel of Google’s self-driving car

Published Aug 25th, 2014 9:15PM EDT
Google Self-Driving Car Issues

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It was inevitable that Google would have to overcome a few obstacles to make its self-driving car a reality. Despite months of successful tests, government officials and the general public are still concerned about the safety risks posed by a vehicle without any manual override. As The Wall Street Journal reports, if Google wants to continue to test its cars on public roads in California, the company is going to have to abide by a new set of rules starting on September 16th. The new rules will require Google to give drivers the ability to take “immediate physical control” of the vehicle if necessary.

Although Google could simply abandon its public tests and stick to private roads (or roads outside of California), the company says it will play by the rules. Google plans to build a temporary steering wheel as well as gas and brake pedals in its self-driving cars in order to satisfy the new requirements.

“With these additions, our safety drivers can test the self-driving features while having the ability to take control of the vehicle if necessary,” Google spokeswoman Courtney Hohne told the Journal.

Another major issue comes in the form of accident insurance. Who pays the bill if a self-driving car is involved in a wreck? California has tried to solve this problem as well by requiring companies involved in testing the vehicles to have $5 million in insurance. Of course, this makes it nearly impossible for smaller companies to continue to test Google’s cars.

It might still be a decade or so before you can actually sit back and be driven to and from work in your own self-driving car, but Google hopes the vehicles could at least become a valuable service once they meet the standards necessary to transport civilians.

“What if you all got here today in a self-driving car that dropped you off and then left?” she asked the audience. “So you may not be able to buy one, but you may be able to drive in one in the next five years.”

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.