In a move intended to place it squarely at the forefront of the autonomously operated vehicle arena, Nevada became the first state in the U.S. to formally recognize this developing technology with a dedicated license plate. The decision was prompted by search-engine giant Google, which had applied to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles for permission to evaluate its autonomous driving system using a specially prepared Toyota Prius. Following a series of successful demonstration tests on the state's freeways, highways and city streets in the Carson City and Las Vegas areas, the Nevada DMV approved Google's application and issued the car a distinctive plate that features a red background with a prominent "infinity" symbol on its left margin.
"I felt using the infinity symbol was the best way to represent the 'car of the future." Department Director Bruce Breslow said. "The unique red plate will be easily recognized by the public and law enforcement and will be used only for licensed autonomous test vehicles. When there comes a time that vehicle manufactures market autonomous vehicles to the public, that infinity symbol will appear on a green license plate.
Through its extensive pioneering efforts, Google has become the de facto leader in the emerging field of autonomously driven vehicles. Equipped with video cameras, radio sensors and laser range finders as well as a bounty of Google maps, its test fleet has racked up over 200,000 miles of real-world evaluation without ever having suffered a single machine-caused incident. The company has now begun seeking to partner with one or more major automakers to accelerate the process of bringing true self-driving cars to the streets in the hope of making transportation safer and more enjoyable as well as even more efficient.
In case you're curious, the Nevada regulations for operating an autonomous car on public roads stipulate that two people must be in any such vehicle at all times, one behind the wheel -- just in case -- and another to monitor its onboard routing display and keep a human eye peeled for any potential hazards that the system might miss.