Google may be streets ahead when it comes to the future of self-driving cars, but the Department of Transport has banned drivers from using the search giant’s Glass technology before it even launches in the UK.
Glass is currently being used by roughly 10,000 ‘Explorers’ in the US (these are developers and tech enthusiasts who are essentially beta testing the product for Google) but is not available to the public in the UK.
Speaking to gadget magazine Stuff, a spokesperson for the Department of Transport said: "We are aware of the impending rollout of Google Glass and are in discussion with the Police to ensure that individuals do not use this technology while driving.”
“It is important that drivers give their full attention to the road when they are behind the wheel and do not behave in a way that stops them from observing what is happening on the road."
The news makes sense given the mobile phone ban for drivers introduced in 2003. Though many tech enthusiast would have been hoping to use Glass’s single screen (positioned above and to the right of the user’s right eye) to display real-time directions and other information.
The is different from the situation in the US where developers have even released an unofficial app for Google Glass that pairs it with the all-electric car, the Tesla S. Dubbed ‘GlassTesla’, the app lets users unlock the car, check battery levels, and adjust the temperature.
Drivers caught using Glass whilst driving would most likely face the same penalties as those caught with their mobile: three points on their licence and a £60 fine.
The spokesperson for the Department of Transport noted that "a range of offences and penalties already exist to tackle those drivers who do not pay proper attention to the road including careless driving which will become a fixed penalty offence later this year."
Google responded in a statement saying: “We are thinking very carefully about how we design Glass because new technology always raises new issues.”
“Our Glass Explorer programme, currently only launched in the US, reaches people from all walks of life and will ensure that our users become active participants in shaping the future of this technology.”