We knew Nevada was serious about becoming the first state to adopt driverless cars when the governor signed a law last year requiring the state to come up with regulations by which to authorize autonomous vehicles. They did, and now the first license to test autonomous vehicles in the state has been awarded to – no surprise here – Google’s robotic car.
It wasn’t long ago that it gave a lift to its first passenger. Now the Google car has been awarded the first autonomous test license. That it’s Google who takes the first licensed test run comes as no surprise, not only because their sensor-laden, robotic Toyota Prius has been the most visible robotic car over the past year and a half, but also because the licenses are largely a result of Google’s own lobby pushing for them. And some of the car’s 200,000 miles have been logged on freeways and neighborhood streets in Carson City, Nevada and – you guessed it – the Vegas Strip. After reviewing Google’s system functions, safety plans, employee training, and accident reporting mechanisms the Nevada DMV’s Autonomous Review Committee gave Google its license. The license requires two humans to be in the car at all times, with one behind the wheel to take over in case something goes wrong.
So if you live in Nevada be on the lookout. Autonomous cars will have Nevada license plates with red backgrounds and an infinity symbol, to make them easy to spot by citizens and police officers. If all goes according to plan and the test vehicles perform as hoped, the vehicles will be made available to the public, green plates will replace the red, but the infinity symbol will remain.
You gotta hand it to both Google and Nevada, they’re certainly wasting no time in getting robotic cars on the road. The Nevada DMV said in a press release that Google may have been the first, but other auto manufacturers have also indicated their interest in filing license applications. So it seems that this is just the beginning, and if all goes well, public acceptance of robotic vehicles is sure to increase dramatically.
These are exciting times, the age of robotic vehicles is upon us.
[image credits: ars technica]