Self-driving car: Google gets a license

Self-driving car is now legal in Nevada, as Google gets license plate for an autonomous Toyota Prius. Nevada is first state to allow self-driving cars on the road.

  • close
    A Google self-driving car navigates the streets of Las Vegas last week. Nevada's Department of Motor Vehicles approved on Monday the nation's first autonomous vehicle license.
    Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles/Handout/Reuters/File
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption

Google's self-driving car is now 100% street-legal -- at least in Nevada.

Last summer, Nevada passed legislation making it the first state in the U.S. to allow self-driving cars on the roadways. Back in February, a governmental committee announced rules and regulations related to those vehicles. According to PCWorld, to pass inspection, autonomous cars need to have logged at least 10,000 miles, and host companies must post a surety bond of at least $1 million. That bond allows companies to have up to five self-driving vehicles in their fleets.

We'd heard that autonomous cars would receive red license plates to set them apart from the pack. Now Reuters reports that one car -- a Toyota Prius specially tricked out by Google's Sebastian Thrun -- has received just such a plate from Nevada's Department of Motor Vehicles. (That's it above, with the "AU" marking -- presumably shorthand for "AUTONOMOUS" -- and the coveted number "001".)

There's no word on where Google's car will spend most of its time, though the report indicates that DMV officials spent time assessing the car in environments as diverse as state highways and the crowded Las Vegas strip. Frankly, we'd be surprised if Google didn't take this opportunity to keep the car in high-density areas to show off its cutting-edge technology.

As a reminder, Google has set a goal of traveling 1,000,000 miles in its autonomous vehicles. To date, it's gone about 200,000 of those miles, with just a couple of fender-benders (and at least one of those happened while a human was in control of the vehicle).

The Nevada DMV says that this kind of autonomous vehicle is the "car of the future". It's already received license applications from other companies with self-driving cars, and though the state's licenses are currently limited to corporations, the DMV plans to award them to individual owners down the line.

But the question remains: will you buy an autonomous car yourself?

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best auto bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.


We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.