Photo courtesy of Google.

Photo courtesy of Google.

Google's artificial intelligence system that drives its fleet of autonomous vehicles will now be considered a "driver" under federal law, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wrote in a Feb. 4 letter to Google.

"NHTSA will interpret 'driver' in the context of Google's described motor vehicle design as referring to the (self-driving system), and not to any of the vehicle occupants," NHTSA's letter said, according to a report from Reuters.

On Nov. 12, the self-driving vehicle unit submitted a proposed design for a self-driving car that completely eliminates the need for a human driver.

This clears the way for Google and other automakers to design vehicle systems that communicate directly with the vehicle's artificial operator.

Google "expresses concern that providing human occupants of the vehicle with mechanisms to control things like steering, acceleration, braking could be detrimental to safety because the human occupants could attempt to override the (self-driving system's) decisions," the NHTSA letter stated.