Should Nevadans be worried about Google’s self-driving cars?
Wed, May 18, 2011 (1:30 p.m.)
Illustration: Kristian Hammerstad
Driverless cars in Nevada? Don’t laugh—odds are if this technological revolution does happen, it’ll start in the Silver State. Google, which already has its own small fleet of “autonomous” vehicles, is lobbying to pass legislation that would make Nevada the first state to allow these self-driving vehicles on public roads. Not only that, they’re trying to get the ban on texting while driving lifted, too. We should be excited, right? After all, who’s not reading this and seeing wonderful visions of brushing our teeth, tweeting, styling our hair and drinking our morning caramel macchiato while watching the road blaze away beneath us? And who wouldn’t want to be the flagship state in such a mega-cool effort? Can you imagine getting into a cab on the Strip and having it be like that scene in Total Recall? (“You’re in a Johnnycab. Uh-huh!”) It just seems that integrating these cars could be, uh, problematic—Nevada has some of the worst drivers in the country, and some of them will see these speed-limit-abiding automatons as nothing but obstacles to be overcome or overrun. In the long term, this is a great idea; but right now, it’s as dangerous as they come. Still, it’s a hell of a lot better than the Monorail.