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When we last heard from Google’s driverless car project, we caught a glimpse at one of the most adorable prototypes ever created. But it seems that cuteness alone isn’t enough for the California Department of Motor Vehicles: a new law coming into effect on September 16 is prompting Google to make changes to its autonomous car design so that it’ll remain in compliance.

A report from the Wall Street Journal says that the California DMV approved rules that stipulate any tester inside an autonomous car operating on the state’s public roads must be “capable of taking over immediate physical control” of the vehicle. When we saw the prototype last, it had nothing that would allow for a driver to take over during a test, meaning that the current version of the automobile would be restricted to Google’s private roads, or roads outside of California.

As a result, Google will now add a “small, temporary steering wheel and pedal system that drivers can use during testing.”

Google spokesperson Courtney Hohne offered a statement on the revision:

“With these additions, our safety drivers can test the self-driving features, while having the ability to take control of the vehicle if necessary.”

This is great news for fans of Google’s project, since it seems that even California’s caution won’t do much to derail the initiative. Even still, to be completely honest I’d entrust my fate to Google’s autonomous car over a driver any day. Drivers get distracted or frustrated. Self-driving cars don’t, and from what we’ve seen over the last few years, the technology that guides them gets better all the time. It’s especially baffling to me that some people think humans are inherently safer drivers considering that 100 percent of all car accidents happen with human beings behind the wheel.

Hopefully Google’s estimates that we’ll start seeing more of these on the roads within the next six years or so remains accurate. I’m ready to trade my Civic in for a teeny Google car right now.

[Source: Wall Street Journal]


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