Google has been quietly but determinedly lobbying the Nevada state legislature to legalize self-driving cars in the past few months, according to recent reports.
Google hired David Goldwater, a Las Vegas lobbyist, to promote two measure to legalize the autonomous cars and permit humans to text in them, the New York Times reported.
Google has been testing the robotic cars in California, including long journeys down Highway 1 and shorter commutes around the Bay Area, but decided to focus legislative efforts in Nevada. The state has been leading legislation by considering automated vehicles for deliveries and taxis.
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The commercial benefits of self-driving vehicles for Nevada aren't clear, but if municipalities use them there's obviously a market for them. As for the private sector, why wouldn't someone who's had a few drinks too many like to program his/her car to drive home without the worry of being pulled over?
Sure, there needs to be extensive testing before these vehicles are freeway and roadway legal, but the benefits could outweigh the costs. They could help out a harried parent by taking kids to school, automated taxis could spare tourists getting lost, and businesses could just program vehicles to make scheduled deliveries.
There could also be some economic benefits to Silicon Valley and the state. According to the Times:
Google’s autonomous vehicle ambitions hint at an emerging vehicle-industrial complex in Silicon Valley. Mercedes, Volkswagen and other carmakers have laboratories in the region, I.B.M. has a battery development initiative, and the Nummi plant in Fremont, once a joint venture of General Motors and Toyota, has been reopened by Tesla.
Why else have so many resources in the area if high-tech manufacturing can't emerge here?