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Megan McArdle

California Puts Driverless Cars Into Reverse

New regulations threaten Google's promising innovations.
This would have California screaming.

This would have California screaming.

Photographer: STR/AFP/Getty Images

The home state of Google Inc., the pioneering company in driverless cars, has just taken steps to make life more difficult -- not just for Google, but for all of us who would like to see driverless cars hit the road as soon as possible.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has proposed new rules for driverless cars that would prohibit cars without a steering wheel or a brake pedal -- or a human driver ready to take the wheel. Obviously, this would be an enormous setback for Google’s program, which is evolving toward smaller, lower-speed vehicles with none of these things. In my opinion, it would also be a setback for the evolution of driverless cars.