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Nevada OKs Robotic Cars

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Newscom

Nevada has just become the first state where self-driving cars will be legally acknowledged and regulated.

This is very good news for Google, which has been researching the technology for quite some time.

A Google spokesperson told Talking Points Memo simply that "We're grateful we had the opportunity to submit our feedback to the Nevada legislature, and we're pleased to see that this bill has passed."

Google was reportedly engaged in heavy lobbying within Nevada to guarantee the bill would pass.

Driverless cars created by the web search giant are equipped with digital video cameras, GPS units, radar sensors and a laser range finders. Two operators with valid drivers licenses stay in the cars at all times during testing.

Researchers ultimately hope that the use of self-driving cars will result in fewer traffic fatalities, less pollution, smoother traffic flows, and more efficient travel. In an ideal scenario, self-operating "automobile caravans" would operate on interstate highways in a manner similar to trains.

Nevada's new law is a watershed, says M. Ryan Calo, director of the Consumer Privacy Project at Stanford University, and a noted proponent of driverless cars,

Calo believes that Nevada's decision will likely lead to decisions by both other states and the federal government to closely examine the possibilities behind robocars.

As he puts it, "it is more of a way of starting a conversation" in government contexts about the use of driverless cars.

However, Nevada is not the only state the driverless cars have been tested in. Google's robotic cars were extensively tested on California roadways, with over 140,000 miles logged.

California does not have legislation specifically forbidding the use of non-human operated vehicles.

During Google's California tests, a trained safety driver remained behind the wheel at all times. Calo noted that under California law, the use of autonomous vehicles is not illegal.

Google will not be the only company excited to hear about the legislation's passage: Volkswagen has also been researching autonomous vehicles.

Check out this video below of a test-ride of one of Google's self-driving cars: