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October 1, 2014

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Nevada issues Google first license for self-driving car

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AP Photo/Sandra Chereb

Gov. Brian Sandoval takes a spin in a driverless car Wednesday, July 20, 2011, in Carson City. Sandoval described the experience as “amazing”; he took the test run with a Google engineer and DMV Director Bruce Breslow. They started their trip at the DMV offices in Carson City and went north to Washoe Valley, where they turned around.

Click to enlarge photo

Google's Toyota Prius Autonomous Vehicle

CARSON CITY — Nevadans will soon see driverless cars being tested on streets and highways.

Google received the first license Monday from the state Department of Motor Vehicles to test the autonomous vehicles. It is believed to be the first such license issued in the country.

The 2011 Legislature passed the first law in the nation to permit testing of driverless cars. But state regulations require a person behind the wheel and one in the passenger’s seat during tests.

“It’s still a work in progress,” said Tom Jacobs, a DMV spokesman. “The system regulates the brakes, accelerator and steering.”

Google has equipped a test fleet of at least eight vehicles — six Toyota Priuses, an Audi TT and a Lexus RX450h.

License plates issued for driverless cars will have a red background and feature an infinity symbol on the left side.

“I feel using the infinity symbol was the best way to represent the 'car of the future,'” DMV Director Bruce Breslow said.

DMV officials have been in the vehicles during demonstrations on the Las Vegas Strip and in Carson City. There have been other demonstrations of the technology on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and around Lake Tahoe.

The system permits a human driver to take control by stepping on the brake or turning the wheel.

Google says it hopes to market the technology to auto manufacturers. It combines artificial intelligence software, a global positioning system and an array of sensors to navigate its way through traffic.

The DMV says other companies have indicated their desire to test and develop autonomous technology. “Google has a lot of competition,” Jacobs said.

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  1. Likely a vast improvement over the average Las Vegas driver.....unless the commies set off an EMP!

  2. Wow, that is awesome. Can't wait to see how the testing turns out.

  3. TTD,

    I can just imagine the fun you're going to have the first time a cop pulls over one of these cars for a violation and it can be shown to have been on auto-pilot at the time. Who gets the ticket? The car occupant or Google? :)

  4. Honestly, Las Vegas is the perfect place to test their vehicles because of the crazy drivers we have here.

    I like to see Metro (rookie cop) pull over one of these vehicles and start shooting the car because of no response. Believe me, the percentage of that happening is VERY high to say the least.

  5. "...unless the commies set off an EMP!"

    wharfrat -- you need to update yourself. According to Homeland Security, now it's terrorists and law-abiding citizens. And the former can be anybody cops say it is.

    "I like to see Metro (rookie cop) pull over one of these vehicles and start shooting the car because of no response."

    polynesianarms -- maybe by then Metro will have robocops for our robocars

    "If built in great numbers, motels will be used for nothing but illegal purposes." -- J. Edgar Hoover

  6. boftx, I guess you miss the point. Unlike us, fallible human beings, the vehicles will never break the law. They will be programmed not to. I remember the days when some commercial vehicles were fitted with governors that prevented drivers from exceeding a specified limit (50 MPH or there about.) Freeways made that impracticable. Think how relaxed the many good drivers will be once the crazies who ignore common decency and traffic laws are shackled, once and for all.

  7. Yes boftx it is a brave new world indeed. Imagine a place where passed out drunks wake up in their driveway with no harm done on our roads. However I am concerned about the Big Brother affect his will undoubtedly have. I see ispeedtoo's points about how much of our freedoms seem to slip away with these new technologies. Still creeps me out that my phone can tell someone exactly where I am at any particular time.

    As for the no more highway patrol and lawyer fees I'm cool with that. I would just have to get a real job I guess. Maybe politics is in my future haha.

  8. There are several issues with a "drive-less car."

    1. I see zero advantage to allowing a computer to move a 3,000 lb vehicle on public roads, in congested traffic, bad weather conditions, or travel on roads that the little robot camera on the roof of the car has not been programed for.

    2. I do see the potential for accidents - collisions from ice, snow, rain, dust and similar conditions, that could not possibly be understood by a car to drive on pre-programmed roads.

    3. The cost of designing, building, maintenance, and updating programming for such automated cars - will increase the cost of a car a lot.

    4. If all else does not bother anyone, what the automated driver-less car WILL DO, is make the opportunity for inattentive accidents - and death of the non-driver and occupants - more probable.

    5. Insurance costs will rise too, based on such factors (as described above, and more) - if only because the "driver" has become a "passenger" - and NO HUMAN BEING is in control of the car.

    6. And before someone tells me that the "passenger" can take control of the car by moving the wheel, or stepping on the brake - YOU WOULD FIRST HAVE TO BE AWAKE to know that is necessary to do.

    Bottom-line is that Google has a game plan. Part of that game plan is the idiotic idea of letting cars drive themselves. But I suggest that the larger picture is MONEY. Google has done a great job of mapping many roads in America, and now - with this "off-the-cuff" technology, wants to recover their INVESTMENT COSTS.

    Well, I suggest that this is just "a ROAD too far."