Google Lobbies Nevada to Pass Robot Car Bill

By  |  Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Google is lobbying the Nevada legislature to pass legislation that would make it the first state to allow the operation of robotically controlled cars on its roads. The company wants to be at the forefront of this: Harry’s post from last October reported on Google’s efforts to develop self driving technology.

It’s not really clear what business a search company has in developing robotic technologies, but hey, nobody ever said that Google shouldn’t attempt to expand its business. It needs the go-ahead by public officials before anything could happen.

Passengers in robotically controlled vehicles would be exempt from current “distracted driving” laws, and would set up standards to test and certify these vehicles for use on public roads. Google isn’t saying much, just saying the project is in its testing phases.

Why would Google pick Nevada? One can only guess. The Bonneville Salt Flats are in neighboring Utah. Maybe Google sees an attraction for these cars among the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas or Reno? Or maybe the company sees Nevada as the most open to something like this.

So far, Google-powered robotic cars have been test driven about 140,000 miles on California roads — obviously without the behest of officials, and with a human close by in case the system breaks down. A Google engineer has also tested automated driving on his 50-mile commute from Berkley to Mountain View.

Harry’s also been a tester of sorts — riding in a driverless VW Passat a year ago, although that car was developed by Stanford University researchers.

How do you feel about this? Would you give up the pleasure of driving — your fahrvergnügen as VW so famously sloganed in the 1990s — to a computer? Are we becoming too lazy? I’d like to hear your opinions.


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10 Comments For This Post

  1. James Says:

    I'm happy to have safer cars and sensors, but i want to be in full control of the car at all times thanks, i enjoy driving and if these technologies are successful the likelihood that they will become compulsory in the distance future is a reality, as it removes human error. I like having my independance and won't have my right to drive taken away from me unnecessarily by lawmakers. You want to cut the road toll, incorporate new technology by all means and incorporate SOME aspects of this technology , like emergency breaking if someone falls asleep, but don't take away my right to drive

  2. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    If you use a GPS you are already using a self-backseat-driving car, not enjoying any kind of freedom at all. You are essentially chauffeuring the GPS. You can turn off the GPS, but you could also turn off self-drive in a self-driving car.

    Once you have a GPS, the freedom question flips around from “freedom of driving” to “freedom from driving.”

    If you were offered a full-time chauffeur for free, wouldn’t you take it? How about for $10 per week (about $2000 added to the cost of the car.) There is a price that they have to get this down to in order to go mainstream.

  3. James Says:

    braking* my bad

  4. Steve Says:

    I love driving, but every day I see people who have no business wielding a massive blunt instrument on our streets. I would be long dead if I weren't such a skilled driver. I would welcome the opportunity to stop most people from being in control of a motor vehicle, even if it meant I would have to forgo my own pleasure to accomplish it.

  5. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    Google’s angle is that a person with a 2 hour commute could spend 4 extra hours per day looking at ads if they had a self-driving car.

  6. The_Heraclitus Says:

    The bill is DOA

  7. Joel Says:

    Most of us still think that we have the right to drive. Driving is a privilege, not a right.
    Most of us are dimly aware, if at all, of the road death statistics (40,000 a year in the US, I think).
    Most of us are dimly aware, if at all, of the benefits to our aging population that this technology would bring. Many people over a certain age should not be driving, but cannot afford chauffeurs.

  8. Jeremy Hughes Says:

    Google is not only an internet search company. They are constantly looking for ways to put their engineers to work in pioneering other AI technologies and IT stuff. Passing this bill will not put robot cars on our roads, but would only make it easier for them to do test runs and improve the technology.

  9. SBT Japan Says:

    Low cost and high quality affordable cars online can only be purchased from company , the 24/7 customer support is an added feature. All cars are caerfully insoected and graded 3-4 in auctions. The prices are not burden on pocket and cars are well maintained.

  10. Peter Mould Says:

    It would be great if Google teamed up with a big name in the automotive world like BMW or Mercedes to work on this project, like how Google works with HTC and Samsung on their flagship Android phones.