[SitM: Resurrection of Hasselhof as pop icon to follow shortly thereafter]
Nevada has become the first state in the United States to approve self-driving cars, a necessary step for Google’s vision to become a reality.
In a statement, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles said that its Legislative Commission today approved regulations allowing for the operation of self-driving vehicles on the state’s roadways. Nevada’s rules are the next step in a process began last June, when the state passed a bill that required its DMV to draft the rules.
Autonomous test vehicles will display a red license plate, Nevada officials said. If and when the technology is approved for public use, the cars will carry a green license plate. Nevada’s standard licese plates are bluish-gray, with most of the license plate representing mountains fading into a yellowish sky.
The regulations are a boon for Google, which stunned the industry in late 2010 when it disclosed that it not only had developed an autonomous car, but had successfully tested it on public roadways. Now, Nevada could be prepping for the first self-driving cars to populate the streets of Las Vegas, among other cities.
“Nevada is the first state to embrace what is surely the future of automobiles,” Department of Motor Vehicles director Bruce Breslow said in a statement. “These regulations establish requirements companies must meet to test their vehicles on Nevada’s public roadways as well as requirements for residents to legally operate them in the future.”
Nevada said it worked with Google, automobile manufacturers, testing professionals, insurance companies, universities and law enforcement to develop the regulations. Other states also have similar bills that will be voted upon to determine if they, too, can follow suit.
“Our work doesn’t stop here,” Breslow said. “The department is currently developing licensing procedures for companies that want to test their self-driving vehicles in Nevada. Nevada is proud to be the first state to embrace this emergent technology and the department looks forward to sustaining partnerships as the technology evolves.”
In August of 2010, Google actually said that its cars had traveled more than 160,000 miles without incident – not without driver intervention, but without an accident. Video confirmed that one of Google’s self-driving cars had been involved in a fender-bender, that Google blamed on the Google human driver in the car, rather than the vehicle’s autonomous systems. (Google has also released videos of its autonomous vehicles in action.)
Sergey Brin, a Google co-founder who has taken the self-driving car and other special projects under his wing, has he wants the self-driving car to drive a million miles without an accident. The company has also patented a “landing strip” for the cars, able to orient it or transfer information to it via short-range wireless technologies.
Two other car companies have publicly said they’re developing autonomous cars, as well: Audi and Volkswagen.
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