It was back in 2010 when Google announced the rather shocking news that the tech giant had been operating autonomous vehicles on the streets of northern California and had already racked up more than 100,000 miles on public roads prior to the announcement. Since then, the tech giant has expanded its efforts and commenced with an all-out lobbying effort to begin laying the legislative and institutional foundation for facilitation of autonomous vehicles.
Nevada was the first state to engage with Google and Google’s plans to commence with autonomous vehicle research. After months of lobbying by Google, Nevada Assembly Bill 511, Section 8, signed by the Governor in June, 2011 “requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to adopt regulations authorizing the operation of autonomous vehicles on highways within the State of Nevada”. the law provides that the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles “shall adopt regulations authorizing the operation of autonomous vehicles on highways within the State of Nevada.” The law charges the Nevada DMV with setting safety and performance standards and requires it to designate areas where driverless cars may be tested. The full text of the bill can be read here.
The 2012 legislative season finds Florida looking to be the second state to implement legislation that will enable testing and research of the autonomous vehicle. HB 1207, which passed unanimously out of the House Transportation & Highway Safety Subcommittee, “provides the mechanism to regulate autonomous vehicle technology, seeking to put Florida law ahead of the technology curve and allowing for the safe testing and operation of self-driving vehicles in Florida” The bill ” Authorizes operation of vehicles equipped with autonomous technology for testing purposes; directs DHSMV to prepare report on safe operation of vehicles equipped with autonomous technology on public roads; provides for content of report; requires submission of report to Legislature.” Information on the status of the bill can be found here.
Arizona has also introduced legislation that will facilitate the development of regulations regarding the use of autonomous vehicles. HB 2679 would require the state Department of Transportation to adopt rules authorizing “autonomous” vehicles, operated hands-free by computers using optics, lasers, radar, global positioning systems and something called LIDAR, for light-detecting and ranging, which uses a rotating mirror atop a vehicle to get a three-dimensional image of what is around it.
References and Resources
Good news for Google: Nevada approves self-driving car regulations
Nevada Passes Google’s Autonomous Car Bill
Nevada Legislature AB 511
Assembly Bill No. 511–Committee on Transportation
Legislators look at allowing Driverless Cars on Florida Roads
Navigating the Legality of Autonomous Vehicles
What Florida needs: Driverless cars
Arizona lawmakers mull virtual driver’s licenses, driverless cars