Google’s vision of self-driving cars whose interiors have no driving controls could be thwarted in its home state of California. Automotive News reports that the California Department of Motor Vehicles wants to impose legislation that would require all autonomous vehicles to have both driving controls and a specially-licensed driver behind the wheel.

While Google’s primary test fleet of self-driving cars have manual controls, these are only intended for development purposes. The next-generation prototypes (shown above) have no controls …

Google had already been forced to retrofit controls to these cars following an earlier California ruling. At the time, California DMV official Bernard Soriano stated that the organization was drafting rules that would allow cars to be used without controls, but the agency now appears to be wanting to at least delay this step.

The newest rules would effectively block the commercial deployment of “driverless” cars, which could function as robotic taxis that pick up passengers and drop them off at the destination of their choosing […]

“Given the potential risks associated with deployment of such a new technology, [the] DMV believes that manufacturers need to obtain more experience in testing driverless vehicles on public roads prior to making this technology available to the general public,” the agency said today.

Google said that far from making the roads safer, the restriction would be counterproductive.

In a statement today, Google decried the proposal, saying California’s rules would hold back a technology with the potential to prevent car crashes and improve the mobility of people who currently cannot drive. 

“Safety is our highest priority and primary motivator as we do this,” spokesman Johnny Luu wrote in an e-mail. ”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.”

The DMV is holding consultation meetings on 28 January in Sacramento and 2 February in LA.

Only yesterday, it was reported that Google may be aiming to offer an automated taxi service, and that it might begin by limiting rides to private land.

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