Even though driverless cars are not a common product yet, Nevada has opened a legal path for driverless cars on the road:
Assembly Bill 511, the first such legislation in the country, allows the state’s Department of Transportation to draw up rules that would authorize driverless cars. The regulations would include safety standards, insurance requirements and testing sites.
A driverless car is defined by the bill as using “artificial intelligence, sensors and global positioning system coordinates to drive itself without the active intervention of a human operator.” That includes technology such as lasers, cameras and radar…
Stanford University robotics professor Sebastian Thrun, a project leader on Google’s effort, said that nearly all driving accidents are due to human error rather than mistakes by machines.
“Do you realize that we could change the capacity of highways by a factor of two or three if we didn’t rely on human precision on staying in the lane but on robotic precision, and thereby drive a little bit closer together on a little bit narrower lanes and do away with all traffic jams on highways,” he said in a speech at the TED 2011 conference this spring.
So how long until this becomes a reality? It seems like we have been hearing about these possibilities for years. Here are a few things that could be holding up the process:
1. The legal side of things. Perhaps Nevada is really a pioneer here and will get the ball rolling.
2. The technology is not quite ready yet. It doesn’t sound like this is the issue.
3. We were waiting for a few companies to really push this. It is interesting that Google seems to be getting a lot of the attention. Obviously, their main business is not driverless cars but they had the resources and interest.
4. The cultural side: are people ready to see driverless cars on the road? Even if they are proven to be safer, will people accept them quickly or will it take some time?