Google Gets First Self-Driving Car License

Future car hits the road in Nevada
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted May 9, 2012 3:45 AM CDT
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval exits a self-driving car after a test drive in Carson City last year.   (AP Photo/Sandra Chereb, File)
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(Newser) – Google is officially speeding into the future now that it has its mitts on the first-ever-issued license for a self-driving car, courtesy of the state of Nevada. There's just one hitch: state regulations require that the self-driving car must have two human operators inside—one behind the wheel to take over if the software fails, and a second to continually monitor the car's computer screen, planned route, and potential hazards. The first licensed test vehicle is a modified Toyota Prius, with a kind of turret on top equipped with video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder, giving the car a 360-degree view of its surroundings. Its license plates are red, marked with an infinity sign and the number 001, reports the BBC.

Nevada changed its laws in March to allow self-driven test cars on the streets, and other states are expected to follow suit. Nevada took the leap when officials became convinced after test drives in the state that the car is as safe, if not safer, than driver-operated cars. "They're designed to avoid distracted driving," the director of the state's Department of Motor Vehicles. "When you're on the Las Vegas Strip and there's a huge truck with a three scantily clad women on the side, the car only sees a box." Google is applying for licenses for two other test vehicles, and state officials have received inquiries from other unnamed companies. Once the cars pass the testing phase and can be marketed to the public, the state plans to issue green plates for the vehicles, and will require special operator training for private owners, according to PC World.

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