If no one’s driving the car that just cut you off, who can you direct your road-rage at? That’s one of the many questions facing Nevada drivers as the state recently approved the use of non-driver vehicles.
The state of Nevada has become the first state to approve the use of autonomous vehicles. As reported by MSNBC, the technology that was once only a dream, or part of a movie, is closer to becoming reality.
Manufacturers are developing technology that would allow a driver to input a destination and allow the vehicle to drive to the location on its own. State legislature, last summer, decided to have state regulators come up with road rules for unmanned vehicles in Nevada.
After final touches were put on some regulations, the Nevada Department of Motor vehicles is tasked with drafting licensing procedures. These procedures would cover companies looking to test their auto autos in the state.
Department director Bruce Breslow says on the news, “Nevada is the first state to embrace what is surely the future of automobiles. 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.”
Google had previously begun to develop such technology. The have even developed several prototypes that have put in some 160,000 miles already. Google had launched the development and research plan for the automobiles in 2010, and has not recorded one accident as of yet. It is thought that the new regulations due to Google pressure, as the company wanted to ensure the legality of the auto program.
The vehicles will do the majority of the driving; however, an “operator” would still be needed to protect against malfunctions or glitches.
As Breslow states, “There is no exemption for drinking and driving.” This means, according to Breslow, that someone will not be able to put an intoxicated person in the car and push a “home” button. The vehicle’s driver/operator will require a special state license and vehicles will be required to have a “black box” similar to an airplane.
States will receive funds from the auto manufacturers. Manufacturers will have to post bonds between $1 million and $3 million and inform states when and where a vehicle is being tested.
Some car makers are well into developing an autonomous vehicle. BMW recently demonstrated one of such test vehicles at the Mazda Laguna Seca Race Track in California. The governor of Nevada, Brian Sandoval, was treated to a special ride in an autonomous Toyota Prius. The Prius used radar and other sensors to navigate to the destination.