The real ‘hands free’ driving
It’s a refrain many parents have heard — “Look, ma, no hands!” — usually immediately followed by a crashing sound. Now officials with the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are taking that maneuver to the streets, but safely. They have issued Google the nation’s first license to test self-driving cars on public streets, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Don’t worry, no need to cancel that vacation trip to Vegas. Nevada officials say they conducted earlier tests of the driver-less car that show that it is as safe, or perhaps safer, than one with a human in control.
Gov. Brian Sandoval took a ride in the robotic car in Carson City, the state capital. The car also passed the ultimate test, on the Las Vegas Strip. See, robots can’t be distracted.
“They’re designed to avoid distracted driving,” Nevada DMV director Bruce Breslow told AP. “When you’re on the Strip and there’s a huge truck with three scantily clad women on the side, the car only sees a box.”
The car, a modified Prius, can drive itself, using laser radar mounted on the roof and in the grill. The radar identifies pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles so that the car can avoid them.
But the robotic car isn’t allowed to roam Nevada streets unattended. State regulations require that two people must be in the test car, one behind the wheel and the other monitoring a computer that tracks the car’s route. The driver can take control of the car simply by tapping the brake pedal or putting a hand on the steering wheel.
Google has applied to the DMV to license three test vehicles. Their license plates will feature — what else? — an infinity symbol.