Google’s Self-Driving cars have been in and out of the news for the past couple of years in regards to everything from how the cars are made to how they’re able to perform the types of everyday driving tasks that human drivers experience regularly. While Google has made tons of advancements in the autonomous car industry, things are still likely to be more than a few years off before we see self-driving cars on the road in any capacity other than the test vehicles which are slowly but surely making their way across the nation to test out new roads.
Google’s autonomous vehicle venture just reached a major milestone however, putting Google’s efforts one step closer to gaining the approval to actually have autonomous cars on the road with real human drivers. According to Reuters, the AI computer that powers the autonomous cars, essentially the brain, could be considered a driver under federal law. While the details strictly state the term “could be” meaning this distinction has yet to be made, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration reportedly informed Google back on February 4th through as letter that the computer powering the autonomous cars could be considered a driver under federal law.
This is hardly the last thing Google needs before they can make autonomous cars a reality, but it’s perhaps a necessary measure in getting autonomous cars closer to approval. The details of this particular statement from the NHTSA follow Google’s meetings with London officials about autonomous cars just last week, which may end up suggesting that Google is looking to expand the testing locations outside of the U.S. Naturally, this would probably have to happen at some point, but there has so far been no confirmation from Google as to whether or not this is the plan. Even more recent is that Google may be looking to expand autonomous vehicles beyond personal self-driving cars to delivery trucks as details in a newly discovered patent suggest as much. There are still many steps to go before Google and other companies who are researching autonomous vehicles, are ready to bring these types of cars to market, but before that can happen the computers which power them need to be recognized as a capable driver.