Finally, we also have to put these cars in context. They're the first safer-yet-dangerous autonomous robots the public will encounter. There will be more -- eventually Honda's ASIMO robot will be released from the lab, ATLAS will come untethered and BigDog and other Boston Dynamics (i.e., Google) robots will be set loose, whether as helpers, packbots, monitors, security bots or more. Will we get the same answer then -- "this technology is a net good, regulators are self-interested, auditors wouldn't catch the bugs, so let the company self-certify and be done with it"?
Google plays a long game and a large one. They're aware that they may be setting a precedent for the way robots are regulated, or not.