CA Tells Google To Put The Steering Wheel Back
|   Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Just when Google thought it could that people could leave the driving to the computer, California has thrown the proverbial wrench into the works by telling the tech giant that the steering wheel has to go back in front of the driver, where it has always been.

The brakes have to make a return trip, too, CA told the computer information giant, as well.

These are additions that the CA Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) sees as necessary for vehicle safety.
Riders in the autonomous car, unveiled shortly after the state published guidelines for autonomous (self-driving) cars in May, must be able to take "immediate physical control" of the car for safety and protection, so the steering wheel and brake pedal have to return.

For several years, Google has been using a modified Toyota Prius as its mule or test vehicle. The vehicle that appeared in May, C/Net notes, is radically different than its mule.

The prototype autonomous vehicle, which seats two, side-by-side, looks something like a gumdrop on wheels, surrounded by a largish bumper to keep its occupants safe. Google made use of carbon composite panels in its prototype so the huge bumper is necessary for rider safety.

According to C/net and other sources, the tech giant has already mapped the driving environments of the entire state of California and has put those requirements into the intelligent driverless car database. Apparently, the online information giant believes that its intelligent car information base makes their arrangement safer than standard vehicles.

A quick look inside the first prototype reveals a bench seat with two high-backed seating positions and no steering wheel or brakes. In what must be the premier elitist view of its own planning, Google has said publicly that it considers the time commuters spend behind the wheel commuting to be "wasted time."

By eliminating such distractions as steering wheels and brakes and replacing them with a Windows-based touchscreen and access to the Internet because the autonomous car is its own WiFi hotspot, Google believes drivers will be able to become more productive.

They seem to define productive as the ability to work on work-related projects from the moment you get up, through your drive to work and home and then on until you go to sleep. This means that instead of the traditional eight- to 10-hour workday, the day could become as long as 15 or 16 hours, leaving workers no time to decompress.

Many drivers, surveys have found, while frustrated with traffic they have to drive in day-in-and-day-out still find the time they spend behind the wheel useful to decompress mentally after or before particularly strenuous or stressful days at the office. Now, Google wants that stress to begin before breakfast and continue until you get to bed. This was made clear in a press conference held recently by Google where it discussed its planning for the driverless car.

CA's new regulations effectively put the brakes on Google's plan to conquer a new market, the driver's dashboard. Apparently, since the car does the driving and thinking for the rider on the left (traditionally the driver's place in the US) will be able to interact with the Internet and work through the large screen that appears in the prototype vehicle. It is prominently located at about the mid-point of the dash panel.

C/net believes that the new regulations aren't a huge slip or faux pas for the online information giant. After all, C/net reasons that's why prototype cars are built. They are meant to be changed and tweaked to meet all the demands placed on them. So, it is unlikely that the final autonomous Googlecar unveiled in early June will it looks like today when it is in final form.

Google will have to watch CA for further changes, as, C/net says, further regulations for autonomous cars will be likely in the near future.
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