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According to a May 2011 article in The New York Times, policy makers and regulators have argued that new laws will be required if driverless vehicles are to become a reality because "the technology is now advancing so quickly that it is in danger of outstripping existing law, some of which dates back to the era of horse-drawn carriages".
A Toyota Prius modified with Google's experimental driverless technology was licensed by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in May 2012.
There is some controversy concerning this distinction between driver-initiated disengagements that Google reports and those that it does not report.
Because the cars rely primarily on pre-programmed route data, they do not obey temporary traffic lights and, in some situations, revert to a slower "extra cautious" mode in complex unmapped intersections.
Google's self driving car project was formerly led by Sebastian Thrun, former director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and co-inventor of Google Street View.
Thrun's team at Stanford created the robotic vehicle Stanley which won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge and its In October 2010, an attorney for the California Department of Motor Vehicles raised concerns that "[t]he technology is ahead of the law in many areas", citing state laws that "all presume to have a human being operating the vehicle".
Google's vehicles have traversed San Francisco's Lombard Street, famed for its steep hairpin turns, and through city traffic.
The vehicles have driven over the Golden Gate Bridge and around Lake Tahoe.
Some of these incidents are not reported by Google when simulations indicate the car should have coped on its own.The car then takes these generated maps and combines them with high-resolution maps of the world, producing different types of data models that allow it to drive itself., the system works with a very high definition inch-precision map of the area the vehicle is expected to use, including how high the traffic lights are; in addition to on-board systems, some computation is performed on remote computer farms.Beginning of 2017, Waymo reported to California DMV a total of 636,868 miles covered by the fleet in autonomous mode, and the associated 124 disengagements, for the period from December 1, 2015 through November 30, 2016.This was the first time that a self-driving car collision resulted in injuries.On February 14, 2016 a Google self-driving car attempted to avoid sandbags blocking its path. Google addressed the crash, saying "In this case, we clearly bear some responsibility, because if our car hadn't moved there wouldn't have been a collision".