Nevada Lawmakers Approve Regulations For First In Nation Self-Driving Vehicles

CARSON CITY – Nevada took a bold step forward today as lawmakers approved regulations allowing for the operation of self-driving vehicles on the state’s roadways.

The first in the nation regulations were approved by the Legislative Commission, and could provide for economic development opportunities in Nevada.

“Nevada is the first state to embrace what is surely the future of automobiles,” Department of Motor Vehicles Director Bruce Breslow said. “These regulations establish requirements companies must meet to test their vehicles on Nevada’s public roadways as well as requirements for residents to legally operate them in the future.”

In creating the regulations, the department partnered with Google, automobile manufacturers, testing professionals, insurance companies, universities and law enforcement all with a common vision of saving lives. Several other states currently have bills in front of their legislators that will follow Nevada into the future.

Google has developed a self-driving car and gave Gov. Brian Sandoval and other state officials rides in one of their vehicles in the capital in July, 2011.

Nevada became the first state in the nation to legalize the use of driverless vehicles with legislation passed this past session.

Gov. Brian Sandoval was the first governor in the nation to go for a ride in Google's autonomous car in July, 2011. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

“Our work doesn’t stop here,” Breslow said. “The department is currently developing licensing procedures for companies that want to test their self-driving vehicles in Nevada. Nevada is proud to be the first state to embrace this emergent technology and the department looks forward to sustaining partnerships as the technology evolves.”

Breslow said self-driving vehicles will be distinguished as “autonomous test vehicles” by the red license plates they will display. When the technology is ready for general public use, a green license plate will be displayed on vehicles registered with autonomous technology.

Sandoval went for a ride in Google’s modified Toyota Prius from the capital city halfway through the Washoe Valley before returning to the Department of Motor Vehicles office where the car and a duplicate were on display.

“It’s incredibly impressive,” Sandoval said after the trip. “It accounts for all the safety issues. You have the ability to know who is front of you. You have a 360-degree consideration of everything around you. It even tells you when a crosswalk is coming up.”