The development of self-driving car technology may have received a major blow after California outlined proposals for tough new legislation.
Under the proposed regulations, any automated cars on the road in the US state would have to have a steering wheel and pedals. There would also have to be a licensed driver who could take control of the vehicle at any time.
Given that California is the home of many of the top companies working in the self-driving car field, this could pose a significant problem. In particular, it would force Google – arguably the leading figure in automated car development – to go back to the drawing board on its simple control-light design.
This proposed legislation has understandably prompted a negative response from Google.
"Safety is our highest priority and primary motivator as we do this," a Google spokesperson told The New York Times. "We're gravely disappointed that California is already writing a ceiling on the potential for fully self-driving cars to help all of us who live here."
Other companies potentially affected by this legislation would be California-based Tesla and Uber.
The latter company in particular would struggle to fully test any driverless taxi concepts it might have on local public roads given the new requirements.
Such legislative hurdles make us rather doubt some of the more optimistic predictions that driverless cars will be ready for the road in just four years.