Nevada Becomes First State To Regulate Self-Driving Cars

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Feb. 17 2012 4:58 PM

Nevada Becomes First State To Regulate Self-Driving Cars  

105231641
A driverless car is tested in Germany.

Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images

Yesterday, Nevada became the first state to approve regulations that permit self-driving cars. Since the legislation process began last June, Nevada officials worked with insurance companies, car manufacturers, law enforcement and testing professionals to develop rules mainly aimed at safety, according to PC magazine.

The regulations spell out procedures for testing the vehicles now and requirements for use by residents in the future. The robocars in the testing phase will have red license plates. Cars that have been approved for use by Nevada residents will sport green plates. The person in the car is considered the operator (and two people will be in testing-phase cars at all times). TechCrunch notes that as of right now, while people cannot operate the car drunk, they are allowed to text and make phone calls.

Advertisement

In order for a company to test its self-driving car, the company must purchase a bond from Nevada, at the price of somewhere between $1 million and $3 million.

While Nevada is the first state to approve and regulate robocars, Google has already tested its self-driving cars on public roads (see the car in action here). There were always people manning the cars (its first crash was actually the fault of a human), and Google notified local law enforcement in advance of any tests. Audi and Voltswagen are also working on robocars, according to PC magazine.

The main benefits of self-driving cars include reduced fuel consumption as well as less traffic congestion and accidents. Widespread consumer adoption of the technology is still far away—taxi drivers, your jobs are safe for now. But the new regulations could have an immediate effect on the Nevada economy. The state has the worst unemployment rate in the country, having been hit hardest by the recession, according to CNN. As the first state to develop regulations for this emerging technology, Nevada may experience an economic boost as companies flock to the state to test their vehicles.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Caitlin Mac Neal is an intern for Future Tense.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Altered State
Sept. 17 2014 11:51 PM The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 9:00 PM Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 17 2014 11:48 PM Spanking Is Great for Sex Which is why it’s grotesque for parenting.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?