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Nevada has become the first state in the U.S. to license autonomous vehicles for use on public roads.

According to a release by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, the agency has issued the first autonomous vehicle license to Google’s self-driving cars.

In February 2012, Nevada’s Legislative Commission was the first in the nation to establish regulations for the operation of self-driving vehicles on the state’s roadways and is currently accepting license applications for testing of autonomous vehicles. The vehicles are not available to the public yet.

The state’s Autonomous Review Committee granted the first autonomous testing business license after driving demonstrations on public roadways in Carson City and the Las Vegas Strip, and reviewing Google’s safety plans, employee training, system functions and accident reporting mechanisms.

Google’s self-driving cars will wear a red license plate with a black and yellow infinity symbol.

“I felt using the infinity symbol was the best way to represent the ‘car of the future.’” Department Director Bruce Breslow said. “The unique red plate will be easily recognized by the public and law enforcement and will be used only for licensed autonomous test vehicles. When there comes a time that vehicle manufactures market autonomous vehicles to the public, that infinity symbol will appear on a green license plate.

Google may be the first company to get its autonomous vehicles on the road in Nevada, but they may not be the last as the agency says other manufacturers have expressed an interest in testing their autonomous technology in the state.

Google first unveiled the self-driving cars on its blog in October 2010, revealing that the company had been testing the automatic cars in California, always with a human behind the wheel to take over if necessary.

“Our automated cars use video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to “see” other traffic, as well as detailed maps (which we collect using manually driven vehicles) to navigate the road ahead,” Google said.

Along with Google’s announcement came the inevitable question of liability. Who is at fault when there is an accident involving an autonomous vehicle?

Watch an October 2010 video of Google’s self-driving car in action.

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for Diego Avila

    I'm still fascinated by this development. While liability definitely seems to be a great question to ponder, so are questions of human override, lowering "driving ages", and GPS surveillance.

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