Wednesday, May 11, 2011

One Step Closer to Autonomous Cars

Google has hired a lobbyist in Nevada to press for legislation allowing self-driving cars on public roads and allowing "drivers" of the self-driving cars to use cell phones and such while in the vehicle. From the NY Times:
Google hired David Goldwater, a lobbyist based in Las Vegas, to promote the two measures, which are expected to come to a vote before the Legislature’s session ends in June. One is an amendment to an electric-vehicle bill providing for the licensing and testing of autonomous vehicles, and the other is the exemption that would permit texting.

In testimony before the State Assembly on April 7, Mr. Goldwater argued that the autonomous technology would be safer than human drivers, offer more fuel-efficient cars and promote economic development.
I'll admit this development came sooner than I expected, but the technology is rapidly improving:
Policy makers and regulators have warned that the technology is now advancing so quickly that it is in danger of outstripping existing law, some of which dates back to the era of horse-drawn carriages. New laws will be required, they argue, if autonomous vehicles are to become a reality.

Policy analysts say Nevada is the first state to consider the commercial deployment of a generation of vehicles that may park themselves, perform automatic deliveries or even act as automated taxis on the Las Vegas casino strip.

In this case, let's hope what happens in Vegas spreads throughout the country.

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