Nevada’s Autonomous Car Law

February 7th, 2012

At the Stanford Center for Internet and Society Blog, Bryant Walker Smith created a Wiki to track legislative action for automated driving laws. Nevada’s law has some interesting provisions.

2. The regulations required to be adopted by subsection 1 must:

(a) Set forth requirements that an autonomous vehicle must meet before it may be operated on a highway within this State;

(b) Set forth requirements for the insurance that is required to test or operate an autonomous vehicle on a highway within this State;

(c) Establish minimum safety standards for autonomous vehicles and their operation;

(d) Provide for the testing of autonomous vehicles;

(e) Restrict the testing of autonomous vehicles to specified geographic areas; and

(f) Set forth such other requirements as the Department determines to be necessary.

3. As used in this section:

(a) “Artificial intelligence” means the use of computers and related equipment to enable a machine to duplicate or mimic the behavior of human beings.

(b) “Autonomous vehicle” means a motor vehicle that uses artificial intelligence, sensors and global positioning system coordinates to drive itself without the active intervention of a human operator.

(c) “Sensors” includes, without limitation, cameras, lasers and radar.

The text of the draft regulation has this interesting nugget.

So what’s an autonomous vehicle?

Sec. 2. As used in NRS 482A.030, the Department will interpret the term “autonomous vehicle” to exclude a vehicle enabled with a safety system or driver assistance system, including, without limitation, a system to provide electronic blind spot assistance, crash avoidance, emergency braking, parking assistance, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assistance, lane departure warnings and traffic jam and queuing assistance, unless the vehicle is also enabled with artificial intelligence and technology that allows the vehicle to carry out all of the mechanical operations of driving without the active control or continuous monitoring of a natural person. 

And it applies whether or not the human is paying attention:

For the purpose of enforcing the traffic laws and other laws applicable to drivers and motor vehicles operated in this State, the operator of an autonomous vehicle that is operated in autonomous mode shall be deemed the driver of the autonomous vehicle regardless of whether the person is physically present in the autonomous vehicle while it is engaged.

So the onus is on the owner whether present in the car or not.

Now, the vehicles must meet the minium insurance requirements. Is Geico insuring self-driving cars? Not sure.

Submit proof to the Department that each autonomous vehicle that will be tested in this State is covered by insurance in an amount that meets or exceeds the minimum requirements for a vehicle registered in this State as set forth in NRS 485.185, and not an operator’s policy of liability insurance as described in NRS 485.186.

Plus you gotta drive it for 10,000 miles in autonomous mode before applying for a license (how do you get to drive it autonomously without first having a license? closed track?)

Submit with the application proof satisfactory to the Department that one or more of the autonomous vehicles of the applicant has been driven by the applicant for a combined minimum of not less than 10,000 miles in autonomous mode. The applicant must further provide proof that such vehicle or vehicles of the applicant have been driven in various conditions for a number of miles that demonstrates the safety of the vehicle or vehicles in those conditions. Such conditions include, without limitation, operating the autonomous vehicle in various weather conditions, on various types of roads and during various times of the day and night.