Google's self-driving car is not new. It's been traveling the streets of California for quite awhile now and has a spotless driving record. Up until now, there has been no official licensing process meaning that while the cars can be tested, they can't be legally driven for non-test purposes.
The AP is reporting that Nevada's Department of Motor Vehicles has issued the first license to operate a Google car. Although officials were initially skeptical, Google proved that the vehicle was able to safely maneuver through the busy Las Vegas Strip where there's always a stream of people crossing roads and a never-ending parade of cars and bikes. The DMV's director, Bruce Breslow, even commented that the car "gets honked at more often because it's being safe."
While the auto-driving cars can take care of themselves, the Nevada license still requires two people to be in the vehicle at any time for safety purposes. One person is in the driver's seat and can override the computer by tapping the brake or moving the wheel while the second person watches a computer monitor that plots the course the car plans on taking. Once people become more comfortable with the cars, we expect these types of regulations to loosen up a bit.
Is it a good idea to let a computer drive us around? Who is responsible in the case of an accident? How will current laws be applied to self-driving cars? We may need to answer these questions sooner rather than later as Breslow expects the cars will be ready for consumers in less than five years.