Last week the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles became the first of any state to establish rules for self-driving cars. The state, which mandated these regulations in a bill passed last spring, has been preparing for advances in automobile technology. Last July, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval test-rode a self-driving car that Google is developing.
Though the rules may seem pre-emptive as the technology is not nearly advanced enough to need to be regulated yet, the state wants to have them in place so that they are prepared when the cars begin to hit the market.
The guidelines require companies testing the cars to secure a bond of between $1 and $3 million, specify their intentions, and provide both details about and data from testing to the state. For extra safety measures, two passengers must ride in vehicles being tested. Cars produced for commercial purposes must be operated by people with special licenses to drive them and contain a "black box" to collect data.
The self-driving cars that Google has been developing feature radar systems that make adjustments based on other cars, a camera to read traffic lights and a GPS unit and wheel encoder to keep track of where the car is on the road. Though widespread use of them is still a long way off, Nevada's new guidelines represent a step towards the future of freeway riding.
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