Google told steering wheels must be added to driverless cars

JonathanSeptember 2, 2014

Pedals and steering wheels are to be added to Google cars as a result of new legislation which requires humans to be able to take the wheel in case of software issues.

The directive, which comes from the Department of Motor Vehicles in California, says that drivers must have the power to take physical control of autonomous vehicles. The ruling means that the global tech company must fit steering wheels and pedals to its entire fleet if they want to be able to test them on public roads. The news comes only months after Google revealed a new fleet of autonomous vehicles which had neither. But from the 16th of September, these vehicles will be outlawed from all public roads in the state of California.

However, Google has announced that it has no plans to take testing to another state or use private roads, stating instead that it intends to add temporary steering wheels and pedals to their vehicles.

Courtney Hohne of Google, speaking to the Wall Street Journal, said:

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

In all, the search giant is set to test 100 prototype vehicles, each of which will have a 25mph maximum speed limit. For the time being, tests on private roads are set to begin next month, while public road tests will begin at some point within the next 2 years.

The good news for Google is that Bernard Soriano, a Californian official who helped to create the pending rules, has stated that rules may well be relaxed in time for public road tests of autonomous Google cars.

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