Google's self-driving cars plan stopped in its tracks by new California ruling

Google's plans to test its self-driving cars on public roads have hit a snag, following new ruling from California's Department of Motor Vehicles.

The autonomous vehicles that Google have developed come without a steering wheel or any pedals, which would not comply with new rules that require drivers to be able to take "immediate physical control" of a vehicle on public roads if needed.

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To comply with this, Google plans to build a temporary steering wheel and pedal system, as explained by spokeswoman Courtney Hohne. "With these additions, our safety drivers can test the self-driving features, while having the ability to take control of the vehicle if necessary," she said.

This latest setback comes after the California DMV rejected a request earlier this year from the director of safety for Google's car project, Ron Medford, to allow the testing of other autonomous vehicles such as trucks and motorcycles.

Bernard Soriano, the official developing the new rules, said, "We wanted to take baby steps in terms of testing and how technology is rolled out so we are capable of handling it and Californians accept it."

Google clearly believes that the technology could become extremely valuable and has publicly discussed various ways in which it could be used in the future.

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In July, Google executive Claire Hughes Johnson suggested the possibility of a taxi or courier service, saying, "What if you all got here today in a self-driving car that dropped you off and then left? So you may not be able to buy one, but you may be able to drive in one in the next five years."

Around 100 of the prototype cars will be built, with testing on private roads due to start next month.