The Car Connection reports that back in May Google unveiled the prototype of its first autonomous car built in-house but there were a few features that the new model lacked — for example, a steering wheel and brake pedal. Now, California's DMV has told Google to return those accouterments to their traditional locations so that riders can take "immediate physical control" of the car, if necessary. That and other autonomous vehicle regulations kick in on September 15.
"This isn't a huge setback for Google," writes Richard Reed. "After all, the prototypes aren't nearly ready for primetime, they're just being used for tests. Though the control-less models have worked fine on closed tracks, with no accidents to date, they'll eventually be navigating real streets in real traffic, so they'll need to be up to code. In fact, the DMV may tighten up things a bit further next month, when it issues regulations concerning test vehicles on public roads." In the long run, though, we'd expect the DMV to loosen some of these restrictions. It will undoubtedly take years for regulators and the public to begin trusting autonomous cars — and even then, it's likely that automakers will keep some kind of manual override system in place. After all, given the safety records of autonomous cars — records that will certainly improve with the rollout of vehicle-to-vehicle technology — we're hopeful that motorists will (almost) never need to use them.