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article imageLawmakers considering Google's push for driverless cars in Nevada

By Andrew Moran     May 12, 2011 in Technology
Las Vegas - Google is pushing Nevada legislators hard to legalize driverless vehicles. Nevada could be the first state in the Union to legalize operation of the self-driving Toyota Prius hybrids on public roads.
Google’s autonomous Toyota Prius hybrids have already driven more than 140,000 miles during test drives in California – 1,000 of those were autonomous. The vehicles use position estimators, lidars (a rotating sensor that scans 200 feet), video cameras and radars.
Artificial intelligence has entered the world of automobiles, which has led to car manufacturers, including Mercedes and Volkswagon, to establish research facilities in California’s Silcon Valley.
The New York Times is reporting that Google is now lobbying in Nevada to push lawmakers to legalize the function of driverless hybrids on public roads. The introduced legislation would also lift the ban on vehicle occupants from being on their handsets when behind the wheel.
Although the bills are not receiving much attention, it is unclear as to why Google executives are pushing hard for this legislation to pass in Nevada, which is expected to be voted on in June. Techi reports that policy analysts believe the state is best because then autonomous automobiles could be tested as taxis along the Las Vegas strip.
“In some respects this is a great template and a great model,” said legal scholar at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, Ryan Calo. “It recognizes a need to create a process to test these vehicles and set aside an area of Nevada where testing can take place.”
Google has hired Las Vegas lobbyist David Goldwater to promote the two pieces of legislation, reports Mashable. In an April 7 Nevada State Assembly address, Goldwater stated that the autonomous cars are more fuel-efficient, lower road congestion, injuries and fatalities and increase economic development.
According to the UK Register, the search-engine giant is expected to make money from collecting location data and imagery from the car’s cameras and lidars, but the mapping and routing technology will be free.
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