Terminator fans rejoice: The machines are winning, and Judgment Day draws nigh. Maybe not quite yet, but Nevada took the nation one step closer to a future without the need of direct human control by approving Googles license to test a driverless Toyota Prius on its roads. It is the first such license issued in the United States under new laws and regulations, according to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, which approved the application.
The license plates displayed on the test vehicle will have a red background and feature an infinity symbol on the left side to distinguish it from other vehicles on the road, as if the lack of a driver weren't enough of an indication of otherness. While other automakers have indicated their desire to test and develop autonomous technology in Nevada in the future, the search-engine giant and likely Skynet sympathizer Google was the first company to file an application with the department to test its autonomous system.
I felt using the infinity symbol was the best way to represent the car of the future, department director Bruce Breslow said in a statement. The unique red plate will be easily recognized by the public and law enforcement, and will be used only for licensed autonomous test vehicles. When there comes a time that vehicle manufacturers market autonomous vehicles to the public, that infinity symbol will appear on a green license plate.
After successful test drives along freeways, state highways and neighborhoods in Carson City and the glittering, pedestrian-heavy Las Vegas Strip, the departments Autonomous Review Committee met to review Googles safety plans, employee training, system functions and accident-reporting mechanisms, the department said. The states first autonomous testing business license and license plates for the company followed the committees approval of the application.
Following lobbying by Google to allow driverless cars, which can be brought under human control by turning the wheel or stepping on the gas pedal, Nevada passed a law in June 2011 concerning the operation of driverless cars. In the same year, Google received some negative media attention when one of its driverless cars was responsible for a five-car crash near the companys Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. Google said the car was being driven by a human (naturally) at the time of the accident.
Its still a work in progress. The system regulates the brakes, accelerator and steering, Tom Jacobs, a DMV spokesman, told the Las Vegas Sun newspaper, noting Google is not the only company interested in developing the technology. Google has a lot of competition.