Google’s autonomous car project is marching on after hitting a new milestone: the company’s fully autonomous Toyota Prius was formally registered in the state of Nevada as an autonomous vehicle, allowing it to operate on Nevada’s public roads.
Last year, the Nevada Assembly passed legislation that paved the way for the state to be the first in the nation to formally license autonomous vehicles (as opposed to just licensing a vehicle) within the state’s borders. This month, the state debuted a new type of license plate for autonomous cars–a red plate with an infinity symbol on the left side of it and the first two digits spelling AU–and gave the AU-001 plate to Google and its Toyota Prius.
Google’s autonomous Toyota Prius, along with a handful of other self-driving cars, has been testing for some time now in California, but Nevada statutes now formally recognize autonomous cars and regulate where and when they can be tested. While the cars drive themselves, Nevada law stipulates that they must have two passengers–one in the driver’s seat and able to take over the controls, and another in any other part of the car. The car’s licensed driver is also liable for any citations or fines that the car may incur while driving itself, and all accidents must be quickly reported to the DMV.
The Nevada DMV said in a statement that the licensing occurred after DMV officials rode along in the Toyota Prius as it drove through a variety of different areas and terrains, including neighborhoods, highways, freeways, and even the Las Vegas Strip.
While autonomous vehicles can only be licensed for testing and only to businesses or research organizations, Nevada law is also paving the way to add green AU plates to the mix, which would signify that an autonomous car is owned and will be driven by private citizens.
A Google spokesman said the company is “ excited to receive the first testing license for self-driving vehicles in Nevada,” adding it “believes the state’s framework — the first of its kind — will help speed up the delivery of technology that will make driving safer and more enjoyable.”
Source: Nevada DMV, Google