Nevada has entered heady, high-tech territory by becoming the first state in the Union to allow for the testing of autonomous vehicles – cars that drive themselves without human intervention, such as the pioneering effort by Google – on public roadways.
Starting March 1, any automaker will be allowed to apply to test their own robo-cars on Nevada’s highways. They’ll have to put up a bond of anywhere from $1 to $3 million for the opportunity to give their own product a real-world shakedown. And they’ll also have to have two humans present during any test, with the ability for a human driver to assume control.
“Nevada is the first state to embrace what is surely the future of automobiles,” Department of Motor Vehicles Director Bruce Breslow said. “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.”
To create the regulations implemented by the state bureaucracy, the DMV partnered with Google, a number of different automobile manufacturers, law enforcement and even car insurance companies.
Nevada may have come first, but they certainly won’t be the last state to approve autonomous cars for use on public roads. Several other states, including Florida and Hawaii, have bills in front of their legislators covering the operation of autonomous cars.
“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.”
For now, you’ll be able to spot a driverless car not only by the myriad antennas, cameras and other hardware required for their operation, but also from it’s red license plate, a color the state of Nevada hasn’t issued since the 1940s.
And when driverless cars finally come to market and can be purchased, the state will switch over to a green license plate. At that point, autonomous cars will be a go.