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Oct 11, 2010

Are Google's Driverless Cars Legal?

Google's project to design driverless vehicles raised several questions about the future of driving. But it also raised a more topical question: Are Google's heavily-modified driverless vehicle prototypes even legal? We found out.

Researchers have been working on driverless vehicles since the late 1970s; European governments spent nearly $1 billion in the 1980s and '90s on automated vehicles, including a Mercedes sedan that passed other vehicles on the German autobahn in 1995 at speeds of 110 mph without human input.

In revealing its project Sunday, Google said it had racked up nearly 140,000 miles in its vehicles on public roads, including the Pacific Coast Highway and famous spots such as San Francisco's twisty Lombard Street. The computing giant says it alerted local law enforcement officials whenever testing took place.

According to California officials, there are no laws that would bar Google from testing such models, as long as there's a human behind the wheel who would be responsible should something go wrong. Google says its test vehicles always have at least three passengers: a driver behind the wheel and two technicians to monitor the software and systems.

Google's software "would be just a big step up from cruise control," said Mike Marando, a spokesman for the California Department of Motor Vehicles. "If the vehicle goes too fast, or strays across the line, the human would be responsible for operating the car legally."

And sadly, modern vehicles have been replacing drivers with technology for years. Adaptive cruise control is standard on many luxury models; Ford and Lexus vehicles can parallel park on their own with only brake inputs from the driver, and more advanced systems engage braking controls automatically if they sense a crash is imminent.

For now, there's no legal limits keeping Google or other researchers from developing their cars on public roads as long as there's a human behind the wheel. Going beyond that will make the legal questions as challenging as the technical ones.

55 comments:

The Loon said...

....Sounds pretty unsafe to me. What the hell is the human going to do, fight against the robot? Teehee

Delfin said...

this is gonna be crazy .... skynet anyone?

James Italli said...

About time, is all I have to say! I have more important things to do then deal with ignorant/selfish motorists.

Drackar said...

I see NOTHING sad about this...There are a shitload of people on the roads that shouldn't be allowed near cars at all. The google cars are safer now than a good number of em.

thecatzpajamas said...

i had a dream i invented a driverless car

ElChristo said...

Sounds pretty damn awesome!
Cant wait for iRobot to be real :P

Kevorkian said...

Going around without the need to drive, just my dream xD

Crunky said...

so if the car is driving then i can get drunk?

cupcakelady said...

I think its super awesome!

Derek said...

I've always wondered about the idea of driverless cars. Imagine a taxi service where an empty car stops in front of you and then you get in the couch in the front, whereupon it'll take you to wherever you need to go.

PBrooks said...

like mere laws could restrict google anyway :P

Wonderfullyrandom said...

thats really crazy i love it and i want one

Wondergecko said...

Two words: Terminator. Car.

Joe Flannery said...

For me a car that can drive itself will not beat the fun of driving a manual transmission. For whether or not it is legal I believe if a legal driver is in the driver seat for a manual override then yes.

-ITW- said...

cool idea, but id rather see it come from someone else other than google

SMOKEDANKALLDAY said...

Probably unsafe for now IMO, perhaps in the future once the technology is stabilized. I wouldn't want to be in one thats for sure.

John's Blagovore said...

in b4 iRobot

AKIBA-POP! said...

Had no idea this existed, but i honestly don't think it would work. I WANT FLYING CARS MORE THAN AUTOMATICS.

The Coolest Person In the World - Jack said...

Saw this on TV. Knowing google, this car will be flawless and it will be the next big thing. Check out my blog

The Square Circle said...

the future. it'll eventually be ridiculous to say that you have to be awake while driving a car...

Splash87 said...

I see no problems with it as long as there is a human and fail safe in the car.

TechnoMac said...

thats so cool, i want one of those cars

Mr.Lantel said...

Well it still be a good idea to have people behind the wheel just in case. Good show Google.

http://quarterqwerty.blogspot.com/

Mutefox said...

I trust machines a lot more than I trust the average human motorist. I don't consider this misanthropic, since we shouldn't all be driving cars everywhere in the first place; it's an amazingly inefficient method of transportation that is bound to result in problems and accidents. automating it makes more sense, but it would be even better if we just had public transportation like every other civilized country.

ITS SHAUN'DRE said...

Yeah, who is liable in a crash???

hungrr said...

I buy cars based on looks and performance. Why would you want to get a car you don't have to drive? Driving is too fun.

hungrr said...

I buy cars based on looks and performance. Why would you want to get a car you don't have to drive? Driving is too fun.

Insurance Advice Guy said...

thats some scary technology

kmartsmartsuperstar said...

Man That's awesome! Google is the best. It deserves to be an adjective. Replacement for awesome perhaps?

Muhunty said...

srry but i dont agree

Paladin-Bias said...

good. this needs to happen, not be stopped by inane laws

KillerKun said...

well, let's just hope they don't get a weird Y2K-like bug going on e__e

Blogster said...

awesome read, thanks for sharing! supporting :)

ilikeicecream said...

this means even women can drive

Joel C Anatoli said...

I love google!

melinko said...

now when you wreck i want the foam from demolition man lol

dolan duck said...

If you get pulled over who gets the ticket?

Mantooth said...

Even when these kinds of cars become super-common, I'm gonna be afraid to own one

momo said...

they should be illegal

momo said...

they should be illegal

zeN said...

I don't even care, i want these cars. btw this sort of thing is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to "Zero Vision" the original idea behind a 0 road toll worldwide.. look into it. i think thats its called lul.

mirk said...

Sweet tech blog. Driverless cars sounds pretty cool. Imagine how easy it would be to transport goods across the country.

Barnacle said...

If the cars by themselves drive better than 50% of the assholes out there, then I approve of this.

anontcotrol said...

They should be legal

vogelhut said...

That's so cool.

3milelimit said...

Thats the future for sure.. just a question of how soon it will be a reality for consumers.

P0wermjp said...

:S theres nothing sad about this

chasityxo said...

dude, this is just crazy lol someone is gonna get hurt

Nikola Begedin said...

I'm sure that a statistical analysis could be made. Who knows, these auto-cars might even be more reliable than human drivers.

tonyman33 said...

They be climbin in yo windows next and doing some transformer shhiitttt

Quinn Electronics said...

seems like they should start off wit something a little more low risk like a golf cart

http://thegiannamichaels.blogspot.com/ said...

insane

Mentals said...

I thought exactly the same. Robot cars dont sound very safe to me. :S

Applelove said...

I eagerly await my 6 million dollar nuclear self navigating vehicle.

yoda said...

google is cool and all but this is a bit too fucking much haa