bill-swift - February 21, 2012
For most of us the idea of a car that can drive itself is consigned to 80's TV shows and the RC cars of our childhoods. In the future however they could be quite common military grade vehicles, such as The Crusher, have been in testing for several years. Events like the DARPA Urban Challenge have been bringing the idea of self driving consumer vehicles out of imagination of engineers and onto the roads.
It may be a decade or more before most of us can afford one of these, but you can bet that by the time you can they will already be well regulated with their own rules of the road. After all a car with 360 degree radar won't have the "he was in my blind spot" excuse to fall back on if it crashes.
It looks like at least one state is taking the idea of driverless cars very seriously. Recently, Nevada became the first state in the union to approve a set of regulations regarding driveless cars. For now the regulations only apply to how the cars are tested on public streets, but until recently the idea that these babies would be out in public at all was a pipe dream.
Though, as it sits right now Nevada may be looking at this as more of a strategic move to encourage long term economic growth. After all both Florida and Hawaii currently have testing laws under consideration as well. No company it is right mind will move to a state with no laws, or potentially unflattering legislation pending when they have solid information about Nevada.
The law also comes with a serious short term economic benefits, as it will require the companies who wish to test to carry a bond of between $1 million and $3 million in order to test. It will also require two people to be in the vehicle during testing, with at least one of them having the capability to take control of the car, just in case something goes wrong.
And, in case you were thinking about it, the laws also prevent smart cars from being your designated driver once they are commercially available, and the human owner of the car will be responsible for any damage it creates, whether or not they were there. So, you may want to think twice before you send it out on errands alone.
Article by Katie Gatto