June 24, 2011 at 8:26 PM ET
Nevada is on course to become the first state with robo-cars on the road for real.
Last week, the state passed a bill that authorizes the Department of Motor Vehicles to begin drafting rules for "autonomous vehicles" like the ones that Google is building and testing in California.
Nevada residents won't have their roads taken over by robotic cars overnight. While last week's legislation is a crucial step towards autonomous cars, it's only a preliminary move.
The bill goes into effect on March 1, 2012, and gives officials the go-ahead to work out car certification standards, insurance guidelines and other rules that would apply to robotic cars. The DMV also will mark out areas of the state where the cars can be tested.
According to the bill, these rules would apply to cars that use sensors, global positioning systems and artificial intelligence to drive "without the active intervention of a human operator."
This is cheerful news for Google, which started testing the "automated cars" last year and logged 140,000 test miles in the Bay Area (with engineers in the front seat). Google's cars are designed to navigate traffic, drawing on the processing power of Google's massive data centers. Their hope is that the cars will be safer too.
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