The future got a little closer this week, as Nevada became the first state to allow self-driving cars on its public roads.
The Las Vegas Sun reported that the state issued Google the first testing license for its autonomous vehicles, which will allow the cars to drive on public streets and highways. The cars are guided by GPS, visual indicators, sensor, and artificial intelligence software.
Google says that since 2010, it has performed more than 200,000 miles of computer-led test drives on private tracks.
According to the 2011 Nevada law that allows autonomous vehicles to be tested on its roads, the cars must have two people inside at all times - one in the driver’s seat and one in the front passenger seat.
Advocates of autonomous driving argue that self-driving cars are ultimately safer than those driven by flesh-and-blood humans. Last year, Google software engineer Sebastian Thrun said in a blog post that the search giant’s aim in developing the vehicles was to “help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time, and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use.”
Although it is the first, Nevada is not the only state to consider allowing autonomous vehicle testing on its roads. California, Oklahoma, Hawaii, and Florida are also contemplating similar measures.