The state of Nevada has cleared the likes of Google’s self-driving cars to use its roads according to the BBC. It’s America’s first self-driven vehicle licence, and Google will be leading the charge with a modified Toyota Prius. But is this a smart move? Or an accident waiting to happen?
Google’s car uses video cameras on the roof, radar sensors and a range finder laser to detect other cars and obstacles, so it doesn’t need a person behind the wheel. And such vehicles are the “cars of the future” according to the director of Nevada’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
It looks like this could just be the beginning as well. California is planning a similar change in the law, as are other US states. Previously, Google tested the car in California, reportedly managing 140,000 miles without incident. Well there was one nudge, but it was from a car behind while waiting at the traffic lights.
To demonstrate how clever the car is, Google used it to transport a blind man to Taco Bell and the dry cleaners. Bruce Mahan, who lost 95% of his vision, said in the video: “Where this would change my life is to give me the independence and the flexibility to go to the places I both want to go to and need to go when I need to do those things.”
Google’s tech is undoubtedly clever, and I don’t dispute the claims that most accidents are down to human error. But I use a computer all day long, I know how often technology is liable to crash, if you’ll excuse the pun. And at least when my Mac goes down the worst that can happen is I’ll lose some documents. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an exciting prospect, with the potential to improve lives and revolutionise how we use our roads. It’s just I know never to trust the first generation of a product.