Here Are the New Self-Driving Car Rules That Have Pissed Off Google

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

California, the made-up land of dreams where every autonomous car manufacturer seems to have decided to test its new toys, has just rolled out the first ever set of regulations for self-driving cars. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) this week outlined its set of draft rules for the deployment of the cars, and Google is particularly upset. Here are the key points:

1. Manufacturer Certification/Third Party Testing:
Manufacturers will certify to their compliance with specific autonomous vehicle safety and performance requirements. In addition, a third-party testing organization will be required to conduct a vehicle demonstration test to provide an independent performance verification of the vehicle.

2. Licensed Driver Required in Vehicle:
A licensed operator will be required to be present inside the vehicle and be capable of taking control in the event of a technology failure or other emergency. Driverless vehicles are initially excluded from deployment. The department will address the unique safety, performance, and equipment requirements associated with fully autonomous vehicles in subsequent regulatory packages.

3. Three-Year Deployment Permit:
Manufacturers will be approved for a three-year deployment permit, which will require them to regularly report on the performance, safety, and usage of autonomous vehicles. This provisional permit is a critical first step towards the full deployment of autonomous vehicles in California. Data collected throughout the permit term will provide an opportunity to evaluate the safety and real-world performance of autonomous vehicles and inform subsequent regulatory actions by the department.

4. Privacy and Cyber-Security Requirements:
Manufacturers must disclose to the operator if information is collected, other than the information needed to safely operate the vehicle. Manufacturers will be required to obtain approval to collect this additional information. Autonomous vehicles will be equipped with self-diagnostic capabilities that detect and respond to cyber-attacks or other unauthorized intrusions, alert the operator, and allow for an operator override.

Google’s thrown its toys out of the pram because of rule number two. The company's always envisioned a future in which driverless cars are completely autonomous, but the rules say absolutely not, sir. A licensed driver needs to be present in the front seat at all times, which sounds sensible in these early stages. What's more, in the incident of a road accident, the human driver will be liable, rather than the car. Google says it’s “gravely disappointed” with the guidelines, though it still has the power to change them. Next month, the DMV will listen to feedback from the companies already testing autonomous vehicles. [Re/code]

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