This week, the state of Nevada established the rules that will enable robotic self-driving cars — yes, driver-less cars are finally here — to receive special driving permits starting on March 1st.
"It's not quite driver's licenses for robots — but it's close," NPR's Steve Henn writes.
"The test vehicles will be Nevada's first red license plate since the 1940s," says Bruce Breslow, Nevada's DMV director. Think of it like a learner's permit — those bright red plates will let everyone know there's a student robot driver behind the wheel.
Breslow continues, "And eventually when these vehicles are sold, it will be the first ever neon green license plate that the state of Nevada will ever issue — green meaning go, and the future's arrived."
Google's driver-less prototypes have already logged over 160,000 miles in test runs.
These driver-less vehicles — which can operate autonomously thanks to a series of systems: radar, lane guidance, lidar, infrared cameras, stereo vision, GPS and wheel encoders — intend to decrease the number of accidents stemming from "distracted driving." Someone still needs to sit in the front seat as "operator," ready to take over in case of technical glitches.
(The new guidelines do not tolerate drinking and driving. You can't let your driver-less car be your designated driver.)