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Google's Self-Driving Cars Will Need Steering Wheels – For Now

California rules for testing of autonomous vehicles require that a driver be able to take “immediate physical control” in case something goes wrong.

No steering wheel? Not so fast. Google says it will modify its prototype self-driving car to comply with California Department of Motor Vehicles regulations governing testing of “autonomous” cars on public roads in the state. Those new rules require, among other things, that a test driver be in the vehicle and be able to take “immediate physical control” in case something goes wrong. Earlier this year, Google raised eyebrows when it unveiled a prototype car with no brakes and no steering wheel.

"During our testing we are equipping the vehicles with manual controls such as a steering wheel, brake pedal, and accelerator pedal. 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 said in a statement to NBC News. Later this year, the California DMV is scheduled to issue another regulation that governs the “operation” of fully autonomous (no driver, steering wheel, brake or accelerator) vehicles on public roads.



— James Eng