US Declares Google's Autonomous Cars 'Legal Drivers'

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

Google’s execs must be feeling rather smug right now. The company’s been told by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that its autonomous cars are roadworthy, despite their lack of traditional controls, like pedals and steering wheels. Since the NHTSA is responsible for laying down the law on America's roads, this represents a huge step for Google’s self-driving koala-bots.

"If no human occupant of the vehicle can actually drive the vehicle, it is more reasonable to identify the driver as whatever (as opposed to whoever) is doing the driving," the organisation told Google in a letter. "In this instance, an item of motor vehicle equipment, the Self-Driving System, is actually driving the vehicle."

2016’s been a good-news year for Google so far, especially with regard to autonomous vehicles. The company was left frustrated by California’s Department of Motor Vehicles’ December ruling that a licensed driver would need to be present in the front seat of an autonomous vehicle at all times. Since then, however, the US Transportation Department has said that it wants to speed up development of self-driving vehicles, and is willing to relax certain safety rules in order to make this possible.

London's transport bosses are also in talks with Google, which has definitely, definitely restored the happiness of our beloved cabbies. [BBC]