On top of a recent attempt by California Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown to waive his state’s environmental laws, thereby dangling a wrong-headed perk in front of Tesla Motors and its Gigafactory outreach, Google and its self-drive advocates have also been attempting to abridge California law to get what they want. According to a recent Freedom of information act (FOIA) request, in the past Google has lobbied vigorously to relax the state’s insurance laws all in the name of riding in self-driving cars.
“There is no substitute for the first-hand experience of sitting in the driver’s seat of a test vehicle and experiencing how the technology responds to the complexities of the public road environment,” said Google’s Director Of Safety Ron Medford.
However, California’s DMV, along with its Insurance Commission, saw the issue differently, “The requirements for a test driver mirror the definition of a ‘good driver’ found in (California’s) insurance code,” they offered. “The citizens of California have made a determination that people who meet the criteria specified are the safest drivers. Google will have a test facility where they can demonstrate the technology to dignitaries.”
Apparently, the friction initially appeared when Google wanted a raft of elected officials to have one or more opportunities to serve as test drivers when riding in their self-driving car. However, in parallel with the state’s insurance requirements, these politico-drivers had to offer proof of ‘good driver’ records, and, in the end, couldn’t.
Nevertheless, while Google’s assertions ‘may or may not’ be true, in the end of the day, experimental vehicles are indeed experimental, and it would appear to be imprudent to allow ‘civilians’ to ride around on public roads whether they’re politicians or not. This latest FOIA flap has come on the heels of further curiosity about negative G-Pod news reporting including the crash between a Google self-driving car with a chase vehicle in the midst of a practical road test, along with an instance where a G-Pod ran over a family pet in the midst of a Brazilian test run.
As we at The Auto Future have opined several times in the past, “just because one can do a thing, it doesn’t mean that one should.” However, in the case of the emergent ‘too early to the party’ self-drive effort, it appears that “dumb and dumber” are still firmly in the driver’s seat rather than common sense, since both the political angle along with the multiple road-based incidences suggest behavior that is clearly detrimental of the public at large.