Google Lobbying Plus One: Nevada Legalizes Autonomous Cars

    June 24, 2011

In case you’re still looking for futuristic flying cars, you may want to rest your gaze on the state of Nevada, thanks to some lobbying by Google. The state of Nevada has just passed legislation allowing the Nevada Department of Transportation to create rules and regulations governing the use of driverless automobiles. While the new law, Assembly Bill No. 511 (PDF), doesn’t necessarily make autonomous cars legal, the fact is, the legal groundwork concerning the operation of these vehicles will now take shape, courtesy of the state of Nevada.

WebProNews previously discussed Google’s participation in the process, which saw Google hire a Las Vegas-based lobbyist to promote Assembly Bill 511. Clearly, the lobbying was successful, although the details of what methods were used are scarce, although, it wouldn’t be surprising if some Nevada officials were having the time of their lives in Vegas, all on Google’s dime. Greasing the wheels, and all that.

As for the legislation itself, Forbes quotes Ryan Calo, a Stanford professor who says the legislation is a big step towards autonomous vehicular operation:

The law charges the Nevada DOT with setting safety and performance standards and requires it to designate areas where driverless cars may be tested.

While this is a long way towards the flying cars of the future, it’s refreshing to see the future embraced on such a practical level. The new law also makes it hard not to watch the end of Back to the Future and actually have some hope renewed.

Granted, Google’s advances in the driverless vehicular operation are a long, long way from Dr. Emmett Brown’s creation, but this is still a step in the right direction. Who knows? If Google masters autonomous driving, maybe they’ll turn their attention to cars that can fly. From the looks of it, Google’s doing rather well with the driverless car thing, so maybe it is time to expand those horizons:

Concerning Nevada’s new law, something just occurred to me: Will driverless police cars be tasked with enforcement if driverless civilian vehicles go to fast? Food for thought.