Google must add steering wheels and brake pedals to self-driving cars

Google must add brake pedals and manual steering to its self-driving cars under orders from California's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

The DMV says the search giant's vehicles should be equipped with manual controls should there be a software failure, accident, or any other emergency that mean the car would have to be driven by a human rather than a control centre.

Other rulings introduced include clear procedures for reporting accidents, licensing requirements and a $5 million liability limit for any accident caused by the car. The rules also state only a select number of people would be allowed to test the vehicles.

Google has thus far been testing its self-driving cars with no manual controls at all. However, now it has transpired some of the cars were exceeding the speed limit and the technology involved was 'not perfect' the driving authority has said the design must be adjusted accordingly.

Dmitri Dolgov, the lead software engineer of Google's self driving cars, said the vehicles exceeded the speed limit because they were trying to keep up with other cars on the road and were designed to avoid becoming an obstruction and causing road rage.

The new laws will come into effect from 16 September, giving Google and any other company testing driverless cars on California's roads just a few weeks to add the controls.

Google isn't the only company testing self-driving cars. Last week, IT Pro reported that self-driving lorries may be hitting the streets of the UK soon, using Wi-Fi to transport loads across the country.

The fleet of lorries would follow a manned vehicle, keeping a distance of a few yards. They will first be tested on tracks, then empty motorways over night and, finally, on the busiest traffic hotspot to see how they deal with high volumes of traffic.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.