Legislation passed in Nevada today that will allow companies to test autonomous cars that can drive themselves.
The law has given the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles the authorization to write new rules that will allow self-driving cars to operate on the state's highways. The department will have until March 2012 to put the new rules in place. Anyone operating these vehicles will still need a current Nevada driver's license.
Additionally, the law defines an autonomous vehicle as one that uses GPS, sensors, and artificial intelligence to operate itself without human intervention. On top of that, the law acknowledges that the operator won't need to pay attention while the car is operating itself. Another bill in the legislature will allow drivers to text if the car is driving itself.
Google, which along with Volkswagen is among the first companies to work on developing the technology, has been lobbying Nevada for the changes, and the state, which has been interested in automated taxis in Las Vegas and automated delivery vehicles, was open to the idea. Google believes that self-driving cars will cut down on traffic accidents, traffic jams, and fuel consumption.