Google Self-Driving Computer Can Qualify as a Car Driver

Categories: technology
Tag: autonomous vehicles

What? Currently in the U.S., any self-driving vehicles on the road require a human passenger with a driver's license, as well as a steering wheel and pedals. In a letter sent to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in November 2015, Google proposed a self-driving car “with no need for a human driver" and expressed concern that “providing human occupants of the vehicle with mechanisms to control things like steering, acceleration, and braking, could be detrimental to safety because the human occupant could attempt to override the self-driving system's decisions". The NHTSA responded to Google that the self-driving software could be considered as the driver under federal law, removing the need for a human passenger with a driver’s license.

So what? Even if self-driving vehicles can operate without "steering wheels, pedals, and other human-operated mechanisms", major regulations modifications will be required in the coming years. Qualifying self-driving computer systems as a ‘car drivers’ could rapidly bring the technology to market. With many automakers ready to bear the legal responsibility of the vehicle in self-driving mode, it may become too risky and expensive for humans to drive their cars in the future. An ‘automated driver’ could replace a ‘human driver’ in the taxi and the trucking industries over the coming years, and may also replace mom and dad driving their children to school/daycare.


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