Google gets driverless car law passed in Nevada

Jun 24, 2011 by Katie Gatto weblog

(PhysOrg.com) -- The savvy among you may remember that back in May we told you about Google's attempts to get the Nevada state legislature to consider allowing users to driver UGV, or unmanned ground vehicles, that are more popularly know as self-driving cars on the states roads. At the time it seemed like an interesting notion and a bit of a pipe dream.

As it turns out dreams become real for the search giant quickly. The Nevada state legislature has just passed has just passed a bill, Assembly Bill No. 511, that does two things. First, the law allows the Nevada Department of Transportation to create rules and regulations regarding the use of self-driving cars, so that they can be used legally on the road. The second part of the law requires the Nevada state Department of Transportation to designate areas in which these vehicles can be tested.

The cars in question use a wide array of sensor, GPS technology and a little but of help from an artificial intelligence program to function. already has a fleet of these vehicles active in the state of California.

Google's next legislative goal in Nevada is to get its second passed, one that would allow drivers to text message while they are sitting in the driver's seat of one of these self driving cars. While this idea was introduced at the same time that Assembly No. 511 was, it has not made any significant progress at this point. Since these cars are not slated to be available to consumers for at least another seven years texting may not be an issue when the cars are released.

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User comments : 10

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Byte
not rated yet Jun 24, 2011
Good thing they're not using 'a little butt of help from an artificial intelligence program'. Funny typo though.
J-n
3 / 5 (3) Jun 24, 2011
It's great to hear that a state has started to consider how to allow these types of cars onto the road... My one concern, though, is how will insurance companies respond?

Who do you sue when your computer controlled car gets into an accident? Accidents will happen. Right now we can set blame on those who are driving the cars in question. When the cars drive themselves do the insurance companies sue the car? The manufacturer? The owner who was not driving?

I fear that while these cars would significantly reduce accidents, increase productivity (i'd love to answer e-mails during my commute), increase independence of the disabled etc.. but the Insurance companies, if fear, will NOT allow them.
socean
4.2 / 5 (5) Jun 24, 2011
Insurance not allow them? Why not? Less chance of an accident, superb metrics and data in unlikely event of one. Lets see human drivers try to compete in court with their puny evidence. Hah!

Person(s) currently responsible for operation is obviously first in line for liability, but as usual, anyone that might be able to pay will get sued.

What everyone seems to forget is how lousy people are at driving... we don't set the bar very high... even marginal improvements in performance will be welcomed by those who have to pay for damages. Soon, you'll have to be RICH to be able insure a human driver.

Robotic vehicles will have as much impact as the advent of cars originally did. Less roads needed, almost no parking lots, typically shared ownership and/or monthly operating fees.

BTW, it won't take seven years for these to commonly appear on our roads. It can't come too soon for me... I have a teen driver... would much rather the computer drove him home from any party.
Valentiinro
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 24, 2011
I assume Google would have to provide the insurance and thus charge you for it. You are not driving, Google's equipment is driving, so you would pay them for this service and the payments would additionally include an amount sufficient to insure in case of accidents.
MorituriMax
not rated yet Jun 24, 2011
If you aren't driving, I can't see how you wouldn't be allowed to text. After all, they can't have it both ways. Either the car drives itself or it doesn't.
LuckyBrandon
1 / 5 (2) Jun 24, 2011
I'm by no stretch a fan of google (although I *used* to like their search engine before that bs predictive searching came out), but in this case, I've got to hand it to them.
Good job for getting the tech out there AND approved, its a major accomplishment.

To the others comments....I don't think collisions and such and whose insurance pays and yada yada is going to matter for one primary reason...before these are deployed on any large scale, there will be an infrastructure to control traffic for these types of vehicles. I think I saw someone say 7 yrs out...realistically, to allow for required infrastructure, I'm thinking more like 20 years minimum...15 IF there are alot of investors to cover the infrastructure cost.
italba
1 / 5 (1) Jun 26, 2011
Here in Italy the cars are insured, not the drivers. If the driver (or the driving software, in future) has the correct driving license, the insurance will pay for accidents.
Splinternet_Marketing
not rated yet Jun 27, 2011
My XM frequently cuts out under bridges and in downtown areas. I hope the AI will be able to allow for interruptions in the GPS signals.
Magnette
not rated yet Jun 29, 2011

BTW, it won't take seven years for these to commonly appear on our roads. It can't come too soon for me... I have a teen driver... would much rather the computer drove him home from any party.


Which opens another can of worms....is a drunk in the control seat of a self driving car still able to be charged with being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle?
In the UK we don't have to be actually driving to be charged, just sitting in the drivers seat with the keys in your hand is sufficient for charges to be brought.

I suspect 7 years will be to allow for the legislators and insurance companies to sort the legalities out.
jmlvu
not rated yet Jun 29, 2011
I suspect initially these cars will require a somewhat responsible driver to take over when the unexpected happens.
Texting is one thing but being drunk would much more risky.
The prudent thing would be to only allow automated driving under specific conditions like highway driving, parking ect
until all the bugs are worked out.

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