If you've ever wondered why Google decided to build its own car, well, you have at least part of your answer now. During a talk at SXSW, Astro Teller, the head of Google X, told the crowd that they decided to remove the steering wheel and brakes entirely because humans are not a "reliable backup" for the self-driving system.
What does he mean exactly? Well, he believes that Google has already "mastered" highway driving. The company had put in hundreds of thousands of hours, autonomously cruising California freeways. The project had even reached the dog-fooding phase, in which Googlers test out the project in the real world. So employees that didn't work in the semi-secretive Google X division were essentially invited to beta test the vehicle and commute to work in a robot car -- under the condition that they pay very close attention and be the world's best bug reporters.