Google’s Software-powered Self-driving Cars Will Still Need Physical Controls


Google has been hard at work at developing self-driving cars, but it now looks like the company will need to wait before software is truly in the driver’s seat.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles this week issued new rules that say a driver must be capable of “immediate physical control” of a vehicle. So, the search giant’s prototype cars for now will include steering wheels and a brake pedal system.

Google in May unveiled its own built-from-scratch car model — a tiny two-seater with a front exterior that resembles a cartoon smiley face. But the vehicle was notably missing the physical controls for the driver, in favor of buttons that controlled the software.

The company said it would comply with the state’s regulations, which will go into effect in mid-September. “With these additions, our safety drivers can test the self-driving features, while having the ability to take control of the vehicle if necessary,” a Google spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal. The company did not immediately respond to CNET‘s request for comment.

Testing on public roads will begin next month, in prototypes that will include a steering wheel and pedals, the Journal said.

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Richard Nieva

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