Google gets first self-driving car license in Nevada

by: Mike AndriciMay 8, 2012

Google Self-Driving Car

This may come as a surprise to many, but it looks like Google’s self-driving car concept is a lot closer to reaching the consumer market than previously thought. Nevada’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) recently gave Google the first ever autonomous vehicle license. The Google-modified Toyota Prius is the only licensed autonomous car we’ll see around for a while, as such vehicles are not available to the public yet. On the upside, DMV officials have announced their plans to license self-driving vehicles to the general public at some point in the future.

I must admit that, when I first took a glance at the concept and the videos that Google has uploaded on its Youtube channel, I wasn’t convinced that Google’s self driving car is actually this close to being bug-free. Skeptical by nature, I was willing to bet that videos such as the following one are compiled from chunks of successful footage, and do not reflect the actual state of the concept.

Fortunately, I was wrong. Nevada officials have test-driven (pun intended) the concept in various areas, such as the Las Vegas Strip, Carson City, the Golden Gate bridge, and a number of highways. The conclusion that Nevada State officials have reached is that Google’s self driving car will actually make driving safer than it is in the present. More, according to Nevada DMV director Bruce Breslow, self-driving vehicles are “the car of the future”.

Nevada is not the only state in the US that plans to regulate autonomous cars in the near future. California, Google’s home state, is also taking the matter into consideration. According to Alex Padilla, California state Senator: “The vast majority of vehicle accidents are due to human error. Through the use of computers, sensors and other systems, an autonomous vehicle is capable of analyzing the driving environment more quickly and operating the vehicle more safely”.

What do you guys make of this story? Are autonomous vehicles closer than we think? Would you allow a computer to take care of driving for you? Drop us a line in the comment section below!

  • JayZed

    Just imagine if what has happened to calculators and students were to happen with cars and drivers. It is common for students not to know math and still be successful due to relying on calculators. Could we even see people who don’t know how to drive, going around in these things? What if we forget how to drive, just as we might forget mathematics?

    Imagine 10 years down the road when like 60% of the drivers have these cars and people have started to forget how to drive and even some “drivers” are riding around in these who don’t even know how to drive. Then imagine an EMP happens due to a nuclear explosion a mile above the US and all computers are instantly wiped and gone. Hopefully all drivers would know to stop if the cars don’t automatically stop. But what if they are stuck away from home and don’t know how to drive? Of course the EMP would send the US back to the 18th century immediately, so the minor problem of people in cars who don’t actually know how to drive might be peripheral.

    • JayZed

      EMP = electromagnetic pulse

      • Somedude

        If your car gets hit by an emp then it will not restart regardless if you know how to drive or not.

        Besides people have already forgotten how to drive. They stopped teaching drivers ed in California back in the 90’s and it shows.

        I personally would hate a car that doesn’t let me drive it. But it would be cool to turn on during the morning commute.

    • Don’t quote me on this but I believe an EMP would stop conventional cars too. If this is the case not knowing how to drive would be the least of your concerns after a catastrophic EMP ;)

  • Jessica McGaughy

    I agree with you there JayZed. What if an on-board sensor fails? Will the drivers of the car be able to repair this problem themselves by ordering a kit or would you have to pay a very high price tag to get it repaired? Is there a way to upload a virus to the vehicle’s programming or will future planning see the cars being driven by sensors in the road? It makes you wonder…who insures this car?
    The “sensor-ed” road was being experimented with in Germany and Britain in the last 10 years. I think that would be a more viable route than a car programmed and out there on its own accord. I’m not one to stand in front of technology but the repercussions of an automated car could be incredible. I want the testing to be absolutely completed before I see one on the road–or trust it to drive me.
    I do believe, however, that this would be a gateway for our senior and disabled communities who are too often reliant on more unsavory methods of travel. That being said, I would love to see it in action.

    • Spotfist

      I suppose you could argue the same for any cars at the moment, what if your breaks fail, cars are designed in such a way as to minimise faults along these lines. It would almost be easier for the google car to do a self diagnostic before driving, sensor fail = no self drive. Could you not feed a virus into a car at the moment? Fair enough all you could probably do is make the car drive like a pig as apposed to driving into a wall but why does everything have to be on a network and open?

      Im just looking forward to the psycho Johnny Cabs of the future, “Have a nice day, Ahaahahahaha!” lol