I'm in the same boat. I try to use google now, and >50% of "hands-free" interactions eventually require hands. Many times, voice control requires more looking at the phone because you have to watch it like a hawk to catch all the errors.
Probably got caught on tape admitting to voting for Reagan in 84. That's a fire-able offense in tech.
Standards are probably the best thing to come out of regulation. I would love it if those standards were written after anyone knew what the heck the new industry was going to look like! It would be like the 1910 CA legislature mandating turn-crank starters because that solution made the best sense at the time.
I bet Google has plenty of skeptical safety guys there just like you. And I bet they're under a lot of pressure from the suits to prevent incidents in the field.
So far there have been zero problems, but that didn't stop them from setting up a regulatory framework. Guessing the problems of an entirely new technology and mandating rules for an entire industry is the kind of hubris that can hold up widespread adoption by 10 years.
If you were running this I bet you would sign yourself up for an ATE-heavy 100%, a sample plan of trips around town, and an exhaustive DVT (verification in the lab and validation all over the country). You'd hit all the points on the FMEA and performance requirements doc, then throw some gonzo tests in there to add a little spice.
I would say that's sufficient and you acted prudently, and engineers with production experience would say the same. Things would turn out just fine UNLESS some idiot decided to turn it into a political talking point--then common sense and a workable time-to-market flies out the window.
You make an excellent argument for simulated testing. A real world test will only give you a few scenarios, simulation will throw millions at each individual unit.
Of course you're right about real life constantly surprising people--that's why the development team is performing continuous algorithm development in the real world. I hope my automated car has a real-world-tuned algorithm in combination with a moslty-simulated per-unit system test.
It also the height of hubris for the geek to allow Google to be the sole judge of its own work.
Manufacturing in a regulated industry is a constant battle between operations an quality. Operations (with an eye toward revenue) tries to speed things up, Quality (with an eye toward recalls and audits) tries to slow things down. Both report through different paths to the CEO. The Geek in R&D will see his work checked over by a different department with a different set of metrics.
You can pick your exceptions, but the overwhelming result of this organizational method is safer and better products.
A test track may break the bank for a start-up with a great new algorithm
This is (typically) the most dangerous thing people do all day.
Gov't won't mandate this type of car anytime soon. For the time being, it's up to consumers to adopt and the gov't to get out of the way.
The real story is an unbroken 50-year streak of improvements in safety driven and executed by engineers. A series of recalls is nothing compared to the 60% decline in traffic deaths brought about by new safety technology and it's rapid adoption. Driverless cars are a new safety technology. Let's adopt them already!
Would 2014 America hold up seat belt installation for ten years just to make sure they are totally, exactly, 100% safe?
A regulatory "light hand" is appropriate here for a few reasons:
1. The current state of the art is, comparatively, extremely dangerous (even with attentive, good drivers).
2. Google (or the next few guys coming down the pipe) already have an extremely strong incentive to make their cars as safe as possible (speed of adoption, fear of future regulation).
3. OTA updates would resolve problem behaviors after only a few incidents.
Google is coming to the public with a (statistical) goldmine for human development. The cold skepticism they're getting is totally unwarranted and will do nothing but delay the enormous social and economic benefits that fully autonomous roads will bring.
Are we really having a public, political, emotional discussion about the relative merits of ATE vs Validation testing? Come on, Slashdot, you're a bunch of engineers, right? Does the CA state legislature have ANYTHING of value to add to your FMEA? What about your production planning? Test plan? V&V protocols?
It's the height of hubris for outsiders (especially lawyers in the state legislature) to come in and dictate low-level engineering details. A responsible legislature (and public) would acknowledge that they have NOTHING of value to add to the discussion.
The only appropriate regulation is "make it X safe." Don't tell us engineers to get there, and we won't tell you lawyers how to snort coke of a hooker's tits.
SJC and the much bigger PHX are the airports I frequent and both do a pretty good job. $5 may not be much to a business traveler, but in a few years we'll look back at it the same way we'd think of a $5 charge to turn the lights on.
It's 2100, and we only have a few years to go before the last sub-saharan gets a modem and we can turn on the internet!