Google gets first license to test self-driving cars

The people of Nevada may be in for a surprise when they drive to the market or down the highway — driverless cars.

The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles on Monday issued to Google thefirst state license, and possibly the first in the nation, to testautonomous vehicles.

“It’s still a work in progress,” said Tom Jacobs, a DMV spokesman, toldthe Las Vegas Sun.”The system regulates the brakes, accelerator and steering.”

Last summer, Nevada lawmakers passed Bill 511, which authorized thestate’s DMV to begin formulating a set of rules of the road forautonomous, or self-driving vehicles.

It was the first step toward getting autonomous cars, which aredesigned to use artificial intelligence, computer sensors and GPSinstead of human drivers, on the state’s roadways.

Google could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Last month, Google executives went to Detroit looking for partners inthe company’s efforts to develop autonomous vehicles. AnthonyLevandowski, head of Google’s self-driving car project, told anaudience there that the company would like to get self-driving cars onthe road within the next decade.

A Google spokesman told Computerworldlast month that the company hasbeen reaching out to auto companies but is stillkeeping its optionsopen.

DMV officials have taken test drives in Google’s autonomous vehicles,traveling on the famous Las Vegas strip, according to reports.

However, Jacobs said Google isn’t the only one talking with stateofficials about self-driving cars. According to the Sun, othercompanies have approached them about developing and testing their ownautonomous cars. “Google has a lot of competition,” Jacobs said.

Sharon Gaudin covers theInternet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptopchips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon’sRSS feed. Heremail address is [email protected].

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