Some might find the idea of a self-driving car terrifying. What if it malfunctions and drives straight into a tree, or a ditch? Or worse, another motor! It's for this reason that Google is so careful during its work on self-driving cars. When the search giant revealed its self-driving car project in October, the company assured drivers that the cars were never, ever unmanned.
"We always have a trained safety driver behind the wheel who can take over as easily as one disengages cruise control," said software engineer Sebastian Thun. "And we also have a trained software operator in the passenger seat to monitor the software," he added.
Further, Jalopnik reports that the California Bureau of Motor Vehicles says that these testers are legally considered drivers as they believe autonomous driving software is similar to cruise control.
Still, it seems these trained safety drivers may not be following the letter of the law. A Jalopnik reader sent the following image of the driver of one of Google's self-driving Priuses. The man appears to be talking on his cell phone, which has prompted many to cite the Bureau of Motor Vehicles declaration that these people are legally the drivers of the car and shouldn't be making phone calls but paying attention to the road. The only problem is that you can't actually see a cell phone in the guy's hand, and the person taking the picture, unless stopped at a traffic light or stop sign, was also using his or her own phone. Oops!