Nevada Approves Driverless Car Law

Earlier, it was noted that Google was lobbying the state of Nevada to get driverless cars approved, and it appears they have been successful. The State of Nevada has passed Assembly Bill No. 511 which, among other things, provides that the Nevada Department of Transportation "shall adopt regulations authorizing the operation of autonomous vehicles on highways within the State of Nevada."

Google also succeeded in getting a second bill passed. That bill exempts those sitting in the "driver's seat" of an autonomous vehicle from Nevada's ban on texting while behind the wheel. It reads:
For the purposes of this section, a person shall be deemed not to be operating a motor vehicle if the motor vehicle is driven autonomously through the use of artificial-intelligence software and the autonomous operation of the motor vehicle is authorized.
Google has been testing automated, self-driving automobiles in California. The automated cars use video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to “see” traffic, as well as detailed maps, as well as a connection to Google's data centers.

As a backup during testing, each car is "driven" by a software engineer in the passenger seat, as well as a human being sitting in the driver's seat, ready to take over in the event of a "bug."

Autonomous vehicles aren't going to be hitting the road in general anytime soon. In October of 2010, when the first reports on the Google test vehicles appeared, it was reported that the most optimistic predictions pointed to it taking 8 years for the technology to be deployed to consumers.