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Google strikes back against California’s proposal to limit self-driving cars

Rule would require licensed driver, steering wheels, pedals

The head of Google's self-driving car project rebuked the state of California today for a proposal that would constrain the company's efforts. Yesterday, the state's Department of Motor Vehicles issued draft regulations that would require all driverless cars to have a licensed driver behind the wheel at all times. That would make Google's self-driving car illegal, since it has no steering wheel or pedals.

"This maintains the same old status quo and falls short on allowing this technology to reach its full potential, while excluding those who need to get around but cannot drive," Chris Urmson writes in a post on Medium. "While we're disappointed by this, we will continue to work with the DMV as they seek feedback in the coming months, in the hope that we can recapture the original spirit of the bill."

Google thinks self-driving cars, sans steering wheels and pedals, are "worth a shot."

Urmson says the Golden State, which has the most robust laws with regards to autonomous vehicles, can do better. He conjures up the "shackles of stressful commutes, wasted hours, and restricted mobility" to drive home the freedom he believes Google's self-driving technology represents.

He also says that Google regularly solicits feedback from residents in Mountain View, California, and Austin, Texas — the two towns where its driverless vehicles are out in force — about their feelings toward autonomous cars. "All of this is to say that people are telling us daily that fully self-driving cars are worth a shot," he writes.

Google isn't alone is bashing the proposed regulations. California's Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom released a statement today saying, "These latest draft regulations may prove too onerous, create roadblocks to innovation, and may ultimately drive the development of this promising industry to other states."

And Teresa Favuzzi, who is the executive director of the California Foundation for Independent Living Centres, tweeted that the DMV proposal was potentially discriminating against those persons with disabilities.