Google's Self-Driving Cars Get Their First Learner's Permit

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Google's mysterious and seductive self-driving car has taken another step toward the assimilation of our nation's byways, now that the state of Nevada has given the robotic wonder its very own driver's license. The Department of Motor Vehicles spent the last several months developing a new set of regulations to govern the operation and testing of "autonomous" vehicles and they've just awarded the first official driver's license based on those regulations to Google. That means the company can now test drive its cars on any public state roads, provided there are two soft and fleshy humans inside the vehicle who can monitor and take control, if necessary. Unfortunately, having two slow-witted mammals behind the wheel actually makes the car more dangerous, as the only known traffic accident involving a Google car was blamed on human error. Apparently, we're the ones who can't be trusted to keep the machines safe.

If you're looking to spot a Google Car on your next visit to the Silver State, keep your eyes peeled for a Toyota Prius with a red license plate that features a red-yellow-green infinity symbol. (Google's corporate colors, of course.) It shouldn't be hard to track down since it will probably be in your way, driving far too slowly, obeying all traffic laws. According to the DMV, the cars get repeatedly honked at because they are the only ones being cautious. Under the new regulations, an actual carbon-based lifeform may one day be given the opportunity to own and operate one of these robot cars for their own personal use, but don't hold your breath, as we're still years away from commercially owned Google Goggles-compatible chauffeurs. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.