A Toyota Prius has recently become the first car to be issued a driver’s license by the state of Nevada. No, not a Prius driver – the actual car – but this is a car smart enough to compel the state government to give it one.
As you’ve likely seen in related stories already, this Prius is one of several being tested by Google, and specially equipped for autonomous driving.
According to the BBC, other auto companies are also seeking to follow this, the first vehicle to earn a license to drive by itself, and in so doing are following Google’s lead.
Google’s inaugural self-driving vehicle in Nevada will sport a red license plate with an infinity sign next to the number 001.
It manages quite fine without humans thanks to the humans who programmed its software with data fed via video cameras on the roof, radar sensors, and a laser range finder to gauge distance from its surroundings to avoid collisions.
The BBC reports California and other states are also looking to make driverless vehicles fully licensed.
So far, the car licensed in Nevada has reportedly seen 140,000 accident-free miles. It was bumped once by a car in the rear bumper, but that was not the Google driverless car’s fault.
Indeed, potential for human error and the likelihood of increased safety if people are removed from operating their own vehicles is one argument in favor of driverless cars.
Other advantages being touted include that a vehicle could one day safely transport the handicapped, infirm, children, or others in need of a lift and unable to do it themselves.
The director of Nevada’s Department of Motor Vehicles, Bruce Breslow, said he thinks these are “cars of the future.”
While it’s still undergoing testing, Google has at times put trained drivers behind the wheel who are ready at a moment’s notice to take over if something should go wrong with the machine.
So far, even when traveling over places like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and in other clustered regions, the person behind the wheel is usually just along for the ride.