Self-driving cars might get driving test

accidentcarinwashingtondcUS vehicle safety regulators have said the artificial intelligence system piloting a self-driving Google car could be considered the driver under federal law, and could sit a driver’s test.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told Google, that its driving system could be tested for its driver’s licence. Google submitted a proposed design for a self-driving car that has “no need for a human driver” to the department at the end of last year.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Chief Counsel Paul Hemmersbaugh said his department will interpret ‘driver’ in the context of Google’s described motor vehicle design as referring to the (self-driving system), and not to any of the vehicle occupants.

“We agree with Google its (self-driving car) will not have a ‘driver’ in the traditional sense that vehicles have had drivers during the last more than one hundred years.”

All participants in the autonomous driving race complain that state and federal safety rules are impeding testing and eventual deployment of such vehicles. California has proposed draft rules requiring steering wheels and a licensed driver in all self-driving cars. Others want a man on a horse to ride before the car carrying a red flag.

The fact that the NHTSA is prepared to name artificial intelligence as a viable alternative to human-controlled vehicles, is seen as substantially streamline the process of putting autonomous vehicles on the road, assuming it passes its test of course.

If the car’s computer is the driver for legal purposes, then it clears the way for Google or automakers to design vehicle systems that communicate directly with the vehicle’s artificial pilot.

“The next question is whether and how Google could certify that the (self-driving system) meets a standard developed and designed to apply to a vehicle with a human driver,” NHTSA said.