Google Wanted Autonomous Vehicle Driver Interventions Kept Quiet

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
google wanted autonomous vehicle driver interventions kept quiet

In the entire time Google has been working on delivering an autonomous future upon the driving populace, only one accident was reported, and was caused by human error. That said, the tech giant would prefer you not to know that or of any similar future incidents.

Through a FOIA request, Quartz reports Google lobbied California’s state government for amendments to traffic safety legislation that would, in the words of the company’s director of safety Ron Medford, “limit required reporting to accidents involving vehicles operated in autonomous mode.” The company also wanted language removed that obligated it to report “disengagements” — when the car returns control to the driver — to the government, citing lack of relevance regarding vehicle safety.

Though the state’s DMV wants this data for future driver testing when the day of the autonomous vehicle comes, Medford claimed the reporting would create “a significant burden on manufacturers” and the DMV, especially since the agency did not have “the engineering expertise to interpret the data.”

Other concerns Google wanted the state legislature to address included the fear of trade secrets going public — and to its rivals — as well as the possibility for test drivers to simply leave all of the driving to the car than to disengage even once. The company found support from General Motors, Chrysler, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz, all wondering what the fuss was about regarding autonomous vehicle testing and reporting obligations.

The California DMV did excuse manufacturers from reporting every disengagement — only those linked to safety reasons will now be reported to the agency — but did want everything else related to autonomous driving. Google, for its part, was disappointed “that the vast majority” of its comments were ignored.

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  • Ttacgreg Ttacgreg on Sep 03, 2014

    Methinks Google has done too many drugs at Burning Man. Yeah right Google, I want to get into my car and nap to my destination. Not. The idea of an autonomous car is ridiculous, even assuming they could achieve what looks to be an impossible goal. The legalities and liabilities issues are equally impossible. The idea of a cop pulling over a driver who is literally sleeping is an amusing scenario to contemplate.

  • Stanczyk Stanczyk on Oct 12, 2014

    google and other 'visioners and humanity saviours from 'spookey valley' .. 'the circle' is almost complete..

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion:
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?