Nevada on Monday approved a license application from internet search giant Google to test its driverless cars on public streets and highways, the state's Department of Motor Vehicles said. It is the nation's first autonomous vehicle testing license.
The license was issued after successful testing demonstrations took place recently on freeways, state highways and in neighborhoods in Carson City, the state's capital, and on the busy Las Vegas Strip. The department said its Autonomous Review Committee had reviewed Google's safety plans, employee training, system functions and accident reporting mechanisms.
Besides seeing no driver at the wheel, people will be able to recognize Google's autonomous testing vehicles by its red license plate with an infinity symbol. "I felt using the infinity symbol was the best way to represent the 'car of the future'," said Department Director Bruce Breslow, adding that the license plate will only be used for licensed autonomous test vehicles.
Google was the first company to file an application with the department to test their autonomous system, and the testing license issued on Monday is the first of its kind in the United States. Other auto manufacturers have also indicated their desire to test and develop autonomous technology in the near future.
In February, Nevada lawmakers approved regulations allowing for the operation of self-driving vehicles on the state's roadways. The regulations established the requirements companies must meet to test their vehicles on Nevada's public roadways as well as requirements for residents to legally operate them in the future.
"Nevada is the first state to embrace what is surely the future of automobiles," Breslow said at the time. Several other U.S. states also have similar bills in front of their legislators, but none have been passed yet. "Nevada is proud to be the first state to embrace this emergent technology and the department looks forward to sustaining partnerships as the technology evolves," he added.