Google autonomous Toyota Prius test vehicleEnlarge Photo
Even though driverless cars are still in the embryonic stage, it will soon be legal to operate one in the Silver State. A newly-passed law gives Nevada’s Department of Motor Vehicles until March of 2012 to draft rules regarding the operation of autonomous vehicles on state roads. At the very least, operators will have to possess a valid driver’s license, and texting while behind the wheel of an autonomous vehicle is still against the law (although there’s pending legislation to amend this).
The move comes after successful lobbying by Google, itself a leader in driverless vehicle development. While issues such as liability in the event of an accident have yet to be clearly resolved, the state’s approval of autonomous vehicles on public roads gives Google a base of operations for vehicle testing and development. Google will undoubtedly sink a significant amount of money into Nevada’s economy, and the state is already pondering the benefits of driverless taxis and delivery vans.
Nevada’s new law defines an autonomous vehicle as one that uses artificial intelligence, sensors and GPS to coordinate itself without intervention from a human operator. Google claims their push to develop driverless cars is an attempt to make roads safer, and the technology company believes it can reduce worldwide traffic deaths by 50 percent, as well as reducing traffic jams and fuel consumption.