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Driverless cars developed to reduce car accidents

Google, the search engine giant, has been testing self-driving cars for a while, but now the company is starting to lobby legislators in Nevada that would make the state the first place where the operation of driverless cars legal. The development of driverless cars has been pursued for a number of reasons including the reduction of driver distraction and car accidents, road efficiency and environmental concerns.

As the technology of driverless cars comes closer to perfection, the legal infrastructure across the United States needs to be updated. Nevada has been chosen as the testing ground and two driverless car bills are being lobbied there. The first bill would allow for the licensing and testing of driverless vehicles, and the second bill would permit texting in autonomous vehicles. Sources within Google would not reveal why the company has chosen Nevada as the initial driverless car state.

According to policy analysts, Nevada is the first state to consider the commercial use of a fleet of vehicles that will park themselves and perform automatic deliveries or act as driverless taxis. Policy makers and regulators say automated vehicle technology is developing so quickly that there is a need of a dramatic upgrade in driving laws.

So far in testing the driverless cars, the autonomous cars have had human drivers. In tests there is a human driver and a passenger employed by Google who analyzes the vehicle's equipment. Since the autonomous cars have not been without a human driver in testing, Google has avoided possible driving law trouble.

The lead researcher of the project says robotic cars will increase energy efficiency and reduce car crash injuries and deaths.

Source: The New York Times, "Google lobbies Nevada to allow self-driving cars," John Markoff, 5/10/11

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