The headline feature of Google's latest self-driving prototype is its lack of a steering wheel, accelerator or brake pedal. It's what Google envisions for the future of transportation, and it also runs afoul of California's autonomous vehicle testing laws.
The recently adopted rules by the DMV state:
The autonomous vehicle test driver is either in immediate control of the vehicle or is actively monitoring the vehicle's operations and capable of taking over immediate physical control.
Google's solution to test in the Golden State is to add a temporary set of controls that can be installed when testing on public roads. "With these additions, our safety drivers can test the self-driving features, while having the ability to take control of the vehicle if necessary," Courtney Hohne, a Google spokeswoman, told the Wall Street Journal.
Google has two other options if it wants to test its control-less, self-driving Pikachu: either go to another state (inconvenient) or test on a private course (not as effective). And as far as we can tell "immediate physical control" negates a third option – using an Xbox controller.