Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Reason #192: Robo-Cars

Last year, the Nevada state Legislature became the first in the country to pass a law allowing driverless cars to be tested on public roads. This week, the state's DMV issued the first-ever actual license to operate said cars.

While a number of competitors are working on driverless-car technology, Google appears to be far and away the furthest along, and it was they who received the license on Monday. Their fleet of around eight cars features red license plates an "infinity" logo, to go along with completely autonomous brakes, steering, and acceleration.

While state officials have gone on rides both in and out of Nevada--including on the Vegas Strip and the Golden Gate Bridge--and they were clearly convinced of the tech's value, the law still requires human beings to be present in both the driver's and passenger's seats, and overrides that allow the "driver" to assume control at any time by hitting the brake or moving the steering wheel. Ironically, though, the potential safety advantages of self-driving cars are one of the key selling points--assuming the sensors work.

Needless to say, these things will change everything in the next decade or two; which is good, because flying cars still need some work.

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