THE AVENUE MAY 17, 2011
That famous car from the Knight Rider series could soon be street-legal in Nevada, with legislation pending in the state’s legislature.
OK, maybe KITT wasn't the real deal, but autonomous (i.e. driverless) vehicles have moved beyond the realm of science fiction, and last week an article in the New York Times revealed that Google has been lobbying the state to legalize these autonomous autos for use on Nevada roads.
Google has been putting a lot of effort into developing the vehicles. An article from last October revealed that the company’s fleet had driven over 1,000 miles without the assistance of a human driver (though one was always present in case of emergency). While it isn’t clear what Google’s motivations are, the implications of this technology for road safety, energy efficiency, and pure convenience are pretty exciting.
Yet as the recent Times article points out, current laws are not well suited for a world where cars drive “themselves” and a proper testing ground--maybe Nevada if the legislation passes--will prove valuable in understanding how the technology should be integrated into our existing transportation system.