“U.S. vehicle safety regulators have said the artificial intelligence system piloting a self-driving Google car could be considered the driver under federal law, a major step toward ultimately winning approval for autonomous vehicles on the roads,” David Shepardson and Paul Lienert report for Reuters. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., of its decision in a previously unreported Feb. 4 letter to the company posted on the agency’s website this week.”

“Google’s self-driving car unit on Nov. 12 submitted a proposed design for a self-driving car that has ‘no need for a human driver,’ the letter to Google from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Chief Counsel Paul Hemmersbaugh said,” Shepardson and Lienert report. “‘NHTSA will interpret ‘driver’ in the context of Google’s described motor vehicle design as referring to the (self-driving system), and not to any of the vehicle occupants,” NHTSA’s letter said. ‘We agree with Google its (self-driving car) will not have a ‘driver’ in the traditional sense that vehicles have had drivers during the last more than one hundred years.'”

“Google told NHTSA that the real danger is having auto safety features that could tempt humans to try to take control,” Shepardson and Lienert report. “Google “expresses concern that providing human occupants of the vehicle with mechanisms to control things like steering, acceleration, braking… could be detrimental to safety because the human occupants could attempt to override the (self-driving system’s) decisions,” the NHTSA letter stated. NHTSA’s Hemmersbaugh said federal regulations requiring equipment like steering wheels and brake pedals would have to be formally rewritten before Google could offer cars without those features.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The problem is mixing these vehicles on the road with unpredictable human drivers. If autonomous vehicles are to come online, the two will have to coexist for quite a long period of time.

SEE ALSO:
Why driverless cars will screech to a halt – February 9, 2016
Apple vs. Google in self-driving cars: To map or not to map? – March 6, 2015