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Google gets first self-driving car license in Nevada

May 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!