Technically speaking, what this means is that the car – yes, the car itself – has been issued its own driver license. In other words, the state of Nevada feels the inner workings of Google’s smart vehicle contain the same capacity of driving ability and human judgment as any physical person sitting behind the wheel.
The car in question is a Prius, and has been loaded with a very special software package originally designed by Google for use in and around the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California.
But it is in Nevada where Google has been spending most of its time with the contraption as of late, since that’s the state that it has been able to sweet talk into actually making it legal to take on the streets.
The software within the car uses all sorts of tools, ranging from a set of short-range radar sensors and video cameras to a persistent Internet connection that constantly scans Google Maps for road and traffic updates.
While obviously it is still a highly focused and experimental project, it could be the beginning of a ripple effect on the entire automotive industry.
Of course, Google hasn’t really put the car through its full paces just yet. When it goes for a test drive, the car always has trained employees inside, who are able to override the autopilot mechanism at a moment’s notice.
Interestingly enough, though, the only time that the driverless car has been in an accident is when it was being driven in manual override mode. It has never shown any safety problems when in its driverless state.