Watchdog Calls for Steering Wheels on Robot Cars

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As companies work to develop the perfect driverless car, some consumer advocates want guarantees that humans can still intervene.

At least someone is thinking about ways to avoid the robot uprising. Rather than let driverless cars shuttle us around in the future without hope of taking control, Consumer Watchdog called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to mandate that any such cars include things like a steering wheel, brake and accelerator, so drivers can take over in case of an emergency.

Google is famously working on developing a driverless car, and on April 26 it joined forces with Lyft, Uber, Volvo and Ford to create a lobbying group called the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets.

In response, Consumer Watchdog called for a mandate that the new cars include equipment required to allow a human driver to take control. The consumer group said a driver in the company’s test car took over 341 times during a 15-month period. The group also had a laundry list of other safety and technological questions for the tech giant.

As of July 2015, Google’s self-driving cars had driven more than 1 million miles and been involved in 14 car crashes, though Google blamed human drivers in all of those cases. In February 2016, there was another crash in which Google acknowledged its car was at fault.

Four states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation that would permit driverless vehicles. Google hopes to have the vehicles on the road by 2020.

Should self-driving cars be required to have steering wheels for humans to take control when necessary, or are people the bigger problem?

Share your thoughts in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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