SAN FRANCISCO -- California was the cradle of the self-driving car. Yet when such vehicles are offered to the public for the first time, they may be off limits in the state.
Draft regulations from the California Department of Motor Vehicles are drawing stiff resistance from technology developers such as Silicon Valley's own Google. Those rules would require self-driving cars to have a specially licensed driver prepared to take over the controls. If the rules are finalized, the companies say, they will be forced to go elsewhere to introduce the technology.
The reason? Google's self-driving car would never let a human take the wheel. It would have no steering wheel and pedals -- a design that won tacit approval this month from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which concluded that artificial intelligence software of the type that operates Google's cars can be considered a "driver" under existing federal regulations.