There’s only one thing holding back Google’s self-driving car technology from going to market: the government.
Google is ready to give public access to its fully autonomous cars, but the California Department of Motor Vehicles isn’t quite convinced the cars are safe enough.
Currently, there is no federal framework for implementing self-driving cars to the public. States are responsible for making their own regulations for testing and commercial purposes. But most states have not even bothered to address the issue.
While California has regulations governing testing on public roads, it has not yet established safety standards for self-driving systems for public use.
The DMV was supposed to have rules in place by January 1, 2015, but almost a year later there are still no rules and Google is growing impatient, according to a report from the Associated Press.
Currently, Google does operate about 70 self-driving cars on public roads in California for testing purposes. But the tech giant is ready to take its technology to the masses.
While many carmakers — including General Motors, BMW, and Tesla — are already rolling out driver assistance systems that boast semi-autonomous features, Google wants its public debut to be completely autonomous, meaning humans would never have to worry about taking over the wheel while travelling.
The company has not yet given a clear date as to when its tech would be safe enough for public use, but Google strongly hinted that it’s pretty close.
At a public presentation in September, Sarah Hunter, a public policy director at Google X, was asked when self-driving cars would go mainstream, to which she replied “Whenever the DMV pass their operational regulations.”
And in March, Chris Urmson, the head of Google’s self-driving car project, said during a TED Talk that getting the technology to market is a “really complicated problem,” but he suggested that him and his team were working to have it ready by 2020.
Google has no doubt done vast amounts of testing. Urmson said in his presentation that they run more than three million miles of testing in their simulators everyday. And according to their self-driving car project site, Google cars have driven well-over 1.3 million miles in autonomous mode on public roads.
The only thing seemingly holding Google back from taking its technology to market is the lack of regulation.
Google, though, isn’t the only one pleading with the government to get laws into place.
In October, Volvo’s president and chief executive Håkan Samuelsson went to Washington D.C. to ask government officials for national regulations. With the aim of expediting regulations, Samuelsson even went as far to say that his company would accept full liability if any of its cars are involved in an accident while driving in autonomous mode.
Self-driving cars are not the only technology evolving faster than the law. Government regulators have also struggled to keep up with creating safety laws for drones. After delays, the FAA is finally getting around to making recommendations for rules that will govern both commercial and consumer drones.
We reached out to Google and the California DMV for comment and will reach out as soon as we receive a comment.
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