Audi TTS "Shelley" Autonomous CarEnlarge Photo
In nature, the color red often symbolizes danger. A red hourglass on the abdomen of a black spider means “keep your distance”, as a bite from a black widow is an extremely unpleasant experience. A snake with red rings bordered by yellow stripes could be a coral snake, whose neurotoxic venom is among the most potent in North America.
In Nevada, a red license plate may soon symbolize potential danger as well. Last June, we brought you news that the Nevada legislature had approved the use of autonomous cars on the state’s roads, and now the deserted-road-rich state has approved regulations concerning their operation.
As RGJ.com reports, the regulations have been reviewed and approved by car manufacturers, law enforcement agencies, insurance companies and others. Licensing procedures are still under development, but we now know that autonomous cars will be issued red Nevada license plates.
Driverless cars must still contain a licensed driver, although that operator need not be attentive behind the wheel. As far as we know, it’s still illegal for the driver of an autonomous car to text while behind the wheel, but Google has actively lobbied for a change in that particular law.
As Richard Read points out on The Car Connection, Google’s driverless cars have logged many thousands of miles with only a single accident to date. Ironically, that incident occurred while a human being, not a computer, was behind the wheel.
Given the number of cars on the road today that are piloted by inattentive drivers, maybe we need to rethink our opposition to computer-driven cars. Science-fiction-induced paranoia aside, could computers really be as bad as some human drivers?