Google hits back in attempt to stop DMV passing ‘perplexing’ driverless car rules

Google hits back in attempt to stop DMV passing ‘perplexing’ driverless car rules
Credit: Google

Earlier this week, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in California proposed new driverless car rules that could seriously hamper Google’s vision of fully autonomous vehicles on the road. Now, in a bid to nip the proposal in the bud, Chris Urmson, head of Google’s driverless car project, has penned a post on Medium calling the move “perplexing”.

While the DMV has previously had no issue with Google’s plan for fully driverless cars, the new proposal (if enacted) would require a fully licensed driver to be present at all times.

Urmson views this as a half-measure that can only serve to restrict the potential of the technology.

“We have to imagine a better future, and take urgent steps to get there. Not a future of partial self-driving capabilities — we’ve seen in our own testing that drivers can’t be trusted to dip in and out of the task of driving when the car is encouraging them to sit back and relax — but of fully-autonomous vehicles which are open to all,” he wrote.

It’s the turnaround in spirit that he finds most confusing as the project has gone on, however. Urmson says that driverless cars have already driven more than 1.3 million miles and that the huge majority of accidents are caused by human error, and as such, requiring a human to take control doesn’t make a lot of sense:

“In a perplexing move this week, however, California seemed to shrink back from its leadership: the CA DMV proposed a draft rule that would require a self-driving car to have a licensed driver at all times. This maintains the same old status quo and falls short on allowing this technology to reach its full potential, while excluding those who need to get around but cannot drive.”

Despite the potential setback and “disappointment” felt, Google will continue to “work with” (read: push) the DMV in California to “recapture the original spirit of the bill.”

➤ The View from the Front Seat of the Google Self-Driving Car, Chapter 3 [Medium via BBC]

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