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Saturday, 26 May 2012


Look, no hands! Google's self-driving cars set to hit the roads of Nevada after being granted licence

Nevada drivers could soon be sharing the road with vehicles that don't need them.
The state's Department of Motor Vehicles have announced that they have issued Google with the nation's first licence to test self-driving cars on public streets.
The department said, after conducting demonstrations on the Las Vegas Strip and in Carson City, that the car is as safe - or perhaps safer - than a human.
For one thing, the engineers programed the car to create a ‘virtual buffer zone’ around obstacles, making it more aware than some drivers about their surroundings.

Laser radar mounted on the roof and in the grill detects pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles, creating a virtual buffer zone around the obstacles that the car then avoids.
Some readers envision the robotic car dropping off its operator at the front of the mall and hunting for a parking spot on its own, but Mr Breslow said this was not quite the case, as Nevada's regulations require two people in the test cars at all times.
One person is behind the wheel, while the other person monitors a computer screen that shows the car's planned route and keeps tabs on roadway hazards and traffic lights.
If there's a glitch, the human driver can override the autonomous auto with a tap on the brake or a hand on the steering wheel.

Last summer, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval took the car for a spin in and around the state's quiet capital city.
But Las Vegas Boulevard, where costumed superheroes routinely take the crosswalks and massive billboards angle for the attention of starry-eyed tourists, was perhaps best suited to test the car's main purpose.
'They're designed to avoid distracted driving,' Mr Breslow said. 'When you're on the Strip and there's a huge truck with a three scantily clad women on the side, the car only sees a box.'
So far, Google's applied to license three test vehicles. Mr Breslow said the cars will display red plates and an infinity symbol to represent their status as vehicles of the future.
Once they're ready for the market - something Mr Breslow guesses could come in three to five years - the plates will be green.

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