Google drove into new territory once again this week, and this time they didn’t even have to steer. The tech giant received the nation’s very first license for “autonomous vehicles,” or driver-less cars, in Nevada. While best known for mobile and online software, the company is developing some extreme hardware in the form self-steering automobiles.
The project comes courtesy of Google’s X Lab, a top secret facility whose location is unknown. Other proposed Google X Lab projects include a “space” elevator designed to transport objects into space without large rockets, and augmented reality glasses. Though those projects seem to be ideas for the distant future, the self-driving car has proven itself to be very real.
Originally announced in 2010, the car makes use of cameras, radio sensors, and laser range finder technology to see other traffic. Combined with detailed map information via Google, there is no need for a driver to operate the vehicle, though there is room for one to take over if need be. Google announced that the car had been run for more than 200,000 miles of unassisted driving, and after a demonstration on Nevada’s freeways, highways, neighborhoods and even the Las Vegas strip, the state granted the company a license.
The vehicles will be granted a new type of license plate as well, designed by the state DMV. It will feature an infinity symbol, and the letters AU to represent autonomous vehicle. “I felt using the infinity symbol was the best way to represent the ‘car of the future,’” state DMV Director Bruce Breslow told CNN. “When there comes a time that vehicle manufacturers market autonomous vehicles to the public, that infinity symbol will appear on a green license plate.”
Nevada officials have expressed an urge for the state to be at the forefront of autonomous car technology. Though they stated other auto manufacturers were interested in testing similar technology in the state, Google was the first to do so.