Nevada passes rules for driverless cars
Feb 22, 2012, 6:08 GMT
San Francisco - The road to the future of auto travel has been paved in Nevada.
The western desert state best known as the home of casino city Las Vegas is taking a gamble that the cars of the future will drive themselves and has become the first state in the US to approve rules for driverless cars on its roads.
'Nevada is the first state to embrace what is surely the future of automobiles,' Bruce Breslow, director of the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, said.
But don't expect to see fleets of driverless vehicles swishing down Nevada's highways quite yet. Initially at least the robotic cars laws will be limited to companies testing out experimental vehicles, requiring them to post bonds of up to 3 million dollars to take their cars for a spin in the state.
'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,' Breslow said.
Nevada partnered with Google, which is pioneering the self-driving cars, as well as with other companies and law enforcement agencies, to come up with the new regulations.
These will require the autonomous cars to be equipped with data collectors (like an airplane black box), and to sport red license plates to distinguish them from other vehicles. During the testing period cars must have two people in them, with one ready to assume control at all times. Firms testing the vehicles must lay out the specific purpose of each trip and provide test data to the state.
Once driverless cars are approved for general travel a person would not have to be physically present in order to operate a vehicle, but would be responsible for any accidents or damage. Current drink-driving rules would also apply to operators of self-driving vehicles. The only traffic laws that would be waived are those that ban texting while driving.