Who knew that a legal system could move so quickly? After hearing just last month that Google was lobbying the state of Nevada for legislation that would make self-driving cars legal, Nevada goes and does it! Sort of.
To be a bit more accurate, Nevada has simply charged their Department of Transportation with adopting regulations that govern the safety of such vehicles. Don’t get us wrong, this is a huge step towards an even huger shakeup of the automotive industry. Adopting safety regulations, though, will take some considerable time. Factors that we’ve never had to consider will need to be examined, tested, and put onto paper.
How fast should a vehicle be required to react to an obstacle? How far should sensors be required to see? What are acceptable error rates? Will software-driven vehicles be required to get routine software updates and diagnostics in the same way vehicles are required to get emissions checked now? These and tons of other questions still need to be answered by people who will ultimately be responsible for the safety of the residents of Nevada. Such regulation won’t come nearly as quickly as the order to draft it.
Still. It’s more forward thinking than the other 49 states are looking right now. And in the long run, what Nevada is doing will likely serve as a model both for the legislation and safety regulations that other states (and possibly countries) will eventually adopt.
For once, when these self-driving cars get here, the laws that govern them might actually be ready for a technological innovation. How crazy is that?!
Stanford Center for Internet and Society: http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/node/6688
via Engadget: http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/23/nevada-prepares-itself-for-the-imminent-rise-of-driverless-cars/