Following worries that Google's self-driving cars (at least in California) would feature manual controls and not be specifically designed to operate without a human driver, Google has taken to Google+ to quash the speculation and repeat that the current situation is only temporary.
"We knew that California law would require any vehicles still being tested to have manual controls, so we’ve had a plan ready," explained Google in a post published on 16 September, while referring to reports from August that claimed Google's self-driving cars would need manual controls by September or else Google would no longer be able to test them in California.
"After each vehicle is assembled, we fit a temporary steering wheel and set of controls into it," Google added, in an attempt to shed more light on why it altered its vehicle protoype. "We’ll remove these manual controls after the prototypes have finished being tested and permitted."
In other words: have no fear. Google's driverless cars will still one day ditch the pedals, manual brakes, and steering wheel.
Google had announced in May that it built a fleet of prototype self-driving passenger cars without pedals, manual brakes, or steering wheel, and it promised they'd launch in two years. But the company hit a roadblock during testing when new rules emerged from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles. The rules required a driver to be able to take “immediate physical control” of a test vehicle on public roads.
Google's cars therefore had to be outfitted with steering wheels, brakes, and accelerator pedals before the company could take them for a spin on public roads in California. Google said at the time that it would comply by adding a steering wheel and pedal system to its autonomous prototypes. If the company had refused, it would only be able to test self-driving cars on private roads or outside of California.
That said, the company wants you to know that it is indeed following local law during testing but still plans to launch completely driverless cars in the future.