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Nevada approves regulations for self-driving cars

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February 17, 2012

The state of Nevada has approved regulations that set out guidelines for testing self-driv...

The state of Nevada has approved regulations that set out guidelines for testing self-driving cars on public roadways (Photo: Steve Jurvetson)

Nevada is now officially the first state in the USA where the operation of self-driving vehicles on public roads is regulated by law. The regulations approved by the Legislative Commission of the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles set out guidelines for companies who want to test autonomous vehicles on public roadways. They also include a set of requirements for people who'd like to "drive" such vehicles.

The legislative effort started six months ago and involved consultation with car manufacturers, insurance companies, testing professionals, universities, law enforcement agencies, and Google. Not all work is done yet (licensing procedures are still being developed, for example) and self-driving cars are not going to be made street-legal immediately, but the regulations are likely to serve as an inspiration for other states that are also considering opening up to this technology.

In Nevada, the autonomous vehicles will be marked with red license plates during testing. Should the technology be approved, the color will change to green (normal registration plates are grayish). The purposes of particular tests will have to be disclosed to the state authorities, along with information on how the vehicles are likely to behave in different weather conditions.

The cars will have to have at least two people inside, with one person able to take control if necessary. Each vehicle is to be equipped with a black box-type device to store data from the autonomous system sensors, so that it's possible to retrieve information from at least 30 seconds before a collision.

"Nevada is the first state to embrace what is surely the future of automobiles," said Bruce Breslow, the director of the Department of Motor Vehicles. This is very good news for Google. The company announced back in 2010 that its autonomous cars have already been extensively tested and traveled 160,000 miles (257,495 kilometers) without an accident (although one of the cars was involved in a pile-up caused by a human). The Google-modified Toyota Prius is not the only driverless car waiting in the queue, however, with Audi and Volkswagen already well-versed in the game.

We are unlikely to see a comprehensive autonomous transportation system like the autonomo concept anytime soon, but it's high time for autonomous cars to start showing-off their amazing skills on the public roads.

Sources: PCMAG, Huffington Post

About the Author
Jan Belezina Formerly in charge of Engadget Poland, Jan Belezina's long time fascination with the advance of new technology has led him to become Gizmag's eyes and ears in Eastern Europe.   All articles by Jan Belezina
7 Comments

30secs for the black box? Where will they find that small of an amount of memory. 5mins of all input and 6months of s/w changes seems a lot more reasonable.

Stephen M. Dupree
17th February, 2012 @ 05:27 pm PST

and the feds are going to inform them that the feds are in charge of the roads and what is allowed, give it six months this will get nixed

Bill Bennett
17th February, 2012 @ 07:58 pm PST

Self-driving cars can't come soon enough. Anything to get rid of all the drunk, inattentive, rude, impatient, selfish or just plain bad drivers clogging the roads today.

Gadgeteer
19th February, 2012 @ 12:10 pm PST

I really thought that this would never happen. Are the government, law enforcement and insurance/panel beaters really going to give up the billions of dollars that they receive each year from traffic violations, parking fines and accidents.

If they are willing to give up that income how do they intend to offset such a huge shortfall in future budgets. Do they intend on stopping all health, education and other types of government funding? Are they going to increase taxes?

If someone has a solution to this problem they need to show the polititians how to get around the shortfall in income without unfairly affecting the general population.

Foxy1968
19th February, 2012 @ 09:25 pm PST

They can pass a law for something that is at least a decade off, but they cannot pass laws for anything that really matters now.

Nelson
20th February, 2012 @ 02:07 pm PST

Foxy1968 they'll pay for it all with $10 a gallon gasoline and by mandating electricity meters in electric cars. Some States have already tried passing laws to charge everyone a mileage fee because there's so many cars getting 35+ MPG the tax revenues from gasoline are falling even as the prices go up.

"If you drive a car I'll tax the street." The Beatles

Gregg Eshelman
21st February, 2012 @ 01:34 am PST

This would be a miracle for visually impaired and elderly people. More money is spent on traffic accidents than all of the revenue the government receives on tickets that are issued as a result. And can we think about lives saved and enhanced?

Everyone is up in arms about taxes. I understand but without them we would have no road or services. Taxes maintain the infrastructure that allows us to live our lives. And yes, I know that many of those dollars are wasted but try to live without.

Susan Perry
8th January, 2013 @ 08:24 am PST
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